Worship Music Need Fixin’?

Picture_1_1Tony Morgan has begun a discussion about whether or not church worship music needs fixing: Does worship music need to be fixed? This is something that I have often talked about with fellow worship leaders and pastors over the last few years.  In particular, does what we do relate to unchurched people, too?  Read his post and comment back!

To whet your appetite for what kind of conversation is going on there, read my comment I posted on his site…

Hi Tony,

KLOVE kills us in the church music biz. One small group of people decides what gets made and it seems like the big record companies pressure Christian artists to make "Christian" music–the same sound. The local church should be a place where unique and indigineous music thrives. But, look at the top songs. We all do them. "Here I Am to Worship" for instance or Tomlin, Crowder, etc. Modern worship, or not, we do the same stuff.

I really think though that the unchurched person is not as concerned about style as we are. We like to be "hip." Really, our preferences drive things, not our neighbors. I think unchurched people want authentic. They also want to understand what we are singing and talking about. Within those parameters, there is A LOT of freedom.

My ministry does 5 services with three styles of music. Really, this is generationally driven. I would prefer one style. But, the trend is clear for most churches that are larger. Multi-everthing. We are the iPod church, in an age of mass customization.

BOTTOM LINE: we believers are less satisfied then those who are unchurched with the music that we worship with at church. If it is good and authentic and intelligable, then they will connect in some way. REAL worship, within this fence, attracts. The problem is our insecurity to be authentic.

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

20 comments

  1. I’ll say what I’m fixin’ to say on Tony’s site: I believe the problem is the congregational model. Most churches won’t grow past a few hundred, but any church with more than a few dozen people find themselves working very hard to put on a show every week to thousands of people. This is not necessarily unbiblical, but it is certainly not prescribed in the bible. We spend a LOT of resources to build big buildings and put on large productions, when those are NOT required to fulfill our calling.
    The NT church consisted of home-based meetings, with *occasional* city-wide meetings. Both were primarily for believers. Our calling is not to be hip or do things that unbelievers can necessarily be impressed by, but to simply disciple believers and live life according to The Way. This points people to Jesus, not to megachurches with superstar bands and pastors.

  2. I’ll say what I’m fixin’ to say on Tony’s site: I believe the problem is the congregational model. Most churches won’t grow past a few hundred, but any church with more than a few dozen people find themselves working very hard to put on a show every week to thousands of people. This is not necessarily unbiblical, but it is certainly not prescribed in the bible. We spend a LOT of resources to build big buildings and put on large productions, when those are NOT required to fulfill our calling.
    The NT church consisted of home-based meetings, with *occasional* city-wide meetings. Both were primarily for believers. Our calling is not to be hip or do things that unbelievers can necessarily be impressed by, but to simply disciple believers and live life according to The Way. This points people to Jesus, not to megachurches with superstar bands and pastors.

  3. I’ll say what I’m fixin’ to say on Tony’s site: I believe the problem is the congregational model. Most churches won’t grow past a few hundred, but any church with more than a few dozen people find themselves working very hard to put on a show every week to thousands of people. This is not necessarily unbiblical, but it is certainly not prescribed in the bible. We spend a LOT of resources to build big buildings and put on large productions, when those are NOT required to fulfill our calling.
    The NT church consisted of home-based meetings, with *occasional* city-wide meetings. Both were primarily for believers. Our calling is not to be hip or do things that unbelievers can necessarily be impressed by, but to simply disciple believers and live life according to The Way. This points people to Jesus, not to megachurches with superstar bands and pastors.

  4. I’ll say what I’m fixin’ to say on Tony’s site: I believe the problem is the congregational model. Most churches won’t grow past a few hundred, but any church with more than a few dozen people find themselves working very hard to put on a show every week to thousands of people. This is not necessarily unbiblical, but it is certainly not prescribed in the bible. We spend a LOT of resources to build big buildings and put on large productions, when those are NOT required to fulfill our calling.
    The NT church consisted of home-based meetings, with *occasional* city-wide meetings. Both were primarily for believers. Our calling is not to be hip or do things that unbelievers can necessarily be impressed by, but to simply disciple believers and live life according to The Way. This points people to Jesus, not to megachurches with superstar bands and pastors.

  5. I am not into superstars either, but mega-churches are really just bigger examples of what is good and bad about the church in American, in general. Many mega-churches are fantastic! That is a whole other discussion worthy of having, I feel. (Just for the record and to show my potential bias, my current church is just shy of officially being a mega-church and I have served in three others.)
    The congregration model is an issue. I am glad to not be in a church with that model. Thanks for your thoughts, Derek.

  6. I am not into superstars either, but mega-churches are really just bigger examples of what is good and bad about the church in American, in general. Many mega-churches are fantastic! That is a whole other discussion worthy of having, I feel. (Just for the record and to show my potential bias, my current church is just shy of officially being a mega-church and I have served in three others.)
    The congregration model is an issue. I am glad to not be in a church with that model. Thanks for your thoughts, Derek.

  7. I am not into superstars either, but mega-churches are really just bigger examples of what is good and bad about the church in American, in general. Many mega-churches are fantastic! That is a whole other discussion worthy of having, I feel. (Just for the record and to show my potential bias, my current church is just shy of officially being a mega-church and I have served in three others.)
    The congregration model is an issue. I am glad to not be in a church with that model. Thanks for your thoughts, Derek.

  8. I am not into superstars either, but mega-churches are really just bigger examples of what is good and bad about the church in American, in general. Many mega-churches are fantastic! That is a whole other discussion worthy of having, I feel. (Just for the record and to show my potential bias, my current church is just shy of officially being a mega-church and I have served in three others.)
    The congregration model is an issue. I am glad to not be in a church with that model. Thanks for your thoughts, Derek.

  9. Worship music needs to BE FIXED but probaly NOT the way you think. I see a huge gulf between the rigid and arid traditionalists and the stiflingly vapid “happy clap” contemporary advocates.
    Honestly, most contemporary music is what I call “7-11” music: seven words sung eleven times in a row. Or, worse, its just so forgettable that it will all pass away before the next decade. How do you enter into reverent worship when your ears are bleeding from the amp db’s?

    Do I really have to choose between classics sung in a deadly way or bubblegum sing along worship? Is there nobody who can develop an eclectic set which spans all demographics and gives us all a chance to join in reverent worship? Is the worship community so bereft of creativity that they cannot synthesize gospel, ethnic, hymn, and praise into a series of selections which evoke piety without being either sappy or cast in granite?

    I am so sick of congregations that feel the need to clap after evry song — or worse, never feel deeply enough to enter into a worshipful mindset.

    Come on worship leaders of America! You do not have to be one or the other — God gave you a magnificent musical gift. Whay are your wasting it?

  10. Worship music needs to BE FIXED but probaly NOT the way you think. I see a huge gulf between the rigid and arid traditionalists and the stiflingly vapid “happy clap” contemporary advocates.
    Honestly, most contemporary music is what I call “7-11” music: seven words sung eleven times in a row. Or, worse, its just so forgettable that it will all pass away before the next decade. How do you enter into reverent worship when your ears are bleeding from the amp db’s?

    Do I really have to choose between classics sung in a deadly way or bubblegum sing along worship? Is there nobody who can develop an eclectic set which spans all demographics and gives us all a chance to join in reverent worship? Is the worship community so bereft of creativity that they cannot synthesize gospel, ethnic, hymn, and praise into a series of selections which evoke piety without being either sappy or cast in granite?

    I am so sick of congregations that feel the need to clap after evry song — or worse, never feel deeply enough to enter into a worshipful mindset.

    Come on worship leaders of America! You do not have to be one or the other — God gave you a magnificent musical gift. Whay are your wasting it?

  11. Worship music needs to BE FIXED but probaly NOT the way you think. I see a huge gulf between the rigid and arid traditionalists and the stiflingly vapid “happy clap” contemporary advocates.
    Honestly, most contemporary music is what I call “7-11” music: seven words sung eleven times in a row. Or, worse, its just so forgettable that it will all pass away before the next decade. How do you enter into reverent worship when your ears are bleeding from the amp db’s?

    Do I really have to choose between classics sung in a deadly way or bubblegum sing along worship? Is there nobody who can develop an eclectic set which spans all demographics and gives us all a chance to join in reverent worship? Is the worship community so bereft of creativity that they cannot synthesize gospel, ethnic, hymn, and praise into a series of selections which evoke piety without being either sappy or cast in granite?

    I am so sick of congregations that feel the need to clap after evry song — or worse, never feel deeply enough to enter into a worshipful mindset.

    Come on worship leaders of America! You do not have to be one or the other — God gave you a magnificent musical gift. Whay are your wasting it?

  12. Worship music needs to BE FIXED but probaly NOT the way you think. I see a huge gulf between the rigid and arid traditionalists and the stiflingly vapid “happy clap” contemporary advocates.
    Honestly, most contemporary music is what I call “7-11” music: seven words sung eleven times in a row. Or, worse, its just so forgettable that it will all pass away before the next decade. How do you enter into reverent worship when your ears are bleeding from the amp db’s?

    Do I really have to choose between classics sung in a deadly way or bubblegum sing along worship? Is there nobody who can develop an eclectic set which spans all demographics and gives us all a chance to join in reverent worship? Is the worship community so bereft of creativity that they cannot synthesize gospel, ethnic, hymn, and praise into a series of selections which evoke piety without being either sappy or cast in granite?

    I am so sick of congregations that feel the need to clap after evry song — or worse, never feel deeply enough to enter into a worshipful mindset.

    Come on worship leaders of America! You do not have to be one or the other — God gave you a magnificent musical gift. Whay are your wasting it?

  13. The “7-11 music” is a sarcastic, condescending tag that a couple shock-jock Christian radio personalities love to throw around, but really, the Bible has endorsed repetition in worship. It is silly to simply state that a few words repeated is a bad thing at all. We see it in heavenly worship in Revelations 4:8 “NASB: And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY [is] THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”” Talk about repetition!
    I think that “reverence” is cultural and that Martin does not have to like the spices another family cooks with in order to appreciate the fact that some love garlic and some hate it and it neither makes garlic holy or evil. Let’s not judge people by how they express themselves. Clapping and shouting are in the scripture, but so is laying prostrate before God. I believe there is FREEDOM and I loathe the idea of forcing people to do things the way I want or that Martin wants that are not prescribed in scripture. Let’s not be legalistic here, in other words. If God thought one style or culture was better than another, He would have given us the music charts in the Bible to play and the worship order to follow.

    Another thing to note here. Barna’s latest research showed that churches that grow verses those that have no growth in conversions do the very thing Martin hates. Go figure.

  14. The “7-11 music” is a sarcastic, condescending tag that a couple shock-jock Christian radio personalities love to throw around, but really, the Bible has endorsed repetition in worship. It is silly to simply state that a few words repeated is a bad thing at all. We see it in heavenly worship in Revelations 4:8 “NASB: And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY [is] THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”” Talk about repetition!
    I think that “reverence” is cultural and that Martin does not have to like the spices another family cooks with in order to appreciate the fact that some love garlic and some hate it and it neither makes garlic holy or evil. Let’s not judge people by how they express themselves. Clapping and shouting are in the scripture, but so is laying prostrate before God. I believe there is FREEDOM and I loathe the idea of forcing people to do things the way I want or that Martin wants that are not prescribed in scripture. Let’s not be legalistic here, in other words. If God thought one style or culture was better than another, He would have given us the music charts in the Bible to play and the worship order to follow.

    Another thing to note here. Barna’s latest research showed that churches that grow verses those that have no growth in conversions do the very thing Martin hates. Go figure.

  15. The “7-11 music” is a sarcastic, condescending tag that a couple shock-jock Christian radio personalities love to throw around, but really, the Bible has endorsed repetition in worship. It is silly to simply state that a few words repeated is a bad thing at all. We see it in heavenly worship in Revelations 4:8 “NASB: And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY [is] THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”” Talk about repetition!
    I think that “reverence” is cultural and that Martin does not have to like the spices another family cooks with in order to appreciate the fact that some love garlic and some hate it and it neither makes garlic holy or evil. Let’s not judge people by how they express themselves. Clapping and shouting are in the scripture, but so is laying prostrate before God. I believe there is FREEDOM and I loathe the idea of forcing people to do things the way I want or that Martin wants that are not prescribed in scripture. Let’s not be legalistic here, in other words. If God thought one style or culture was better than another, He would have given us the music charts in the Bible to play and the worship order to follow.

    Another thing to note here. Barna’s latest research showed that churches that grow verses those that have no growth in conversions do the very thing Martin hates. Go figure.

  16. The “7-11 music” is a sarcastic, condescending tag that a couple shock-jock Christian radio personalities love to throw around, but really, the Bible has endorsed repetition in worship. It is silly to simply state that a few words repeated is a bad thing at all. We see it in heavenly worship in Revelations 4:8 “NASB: And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY [is] THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”” Talk about repetition!
    I think that “reverence” is cultural and that Martin does not have to like the spices another family cooks with in order to appreciate the fact that some love garlic and some hate it and it neither makes garlic holy or evil. Let’s not judge people by how they express themselves. Clapping and shouting are in the scripture, but so is laying prostrate before God. I believe there is FREEDOM and I loathe the idea of forcing people to do things the way I want or that Martin wants that are not prescribed in scripture. Let’s not be legalistic here, in other words. If God thought one style or culture was better than another, He would have given us the music charts in the Bible to play and the worship order to follow.

    Another thing to note here. Barna’s latest research showed that churches that grow verses those that have no growth in conversions do the very thing Martin hates. Go figure.

  17. Rich makes his point nicely. I see whole groups of demographics left behind by the vapid lyrics of contemporary worship music. Is that what the Lord wants you to do?
    The verse from Revelation is hardly an example of repetitive Scripture. Really. Compare the adolescent anthem of “Our God is an Awesome God” with the hymn which memorialized that Scripture: “Holy, holy, holy”:

    “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
    Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
    Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
    God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

    Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
    Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
    Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
    Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.”

    Powerful lyrics, thundering meoldy, and captivating harmony. Got anything better? Thought not. Are you so rigid in your style that you can turn a deaf ear to all of God’s children?

    YOUR CALL is to find a bridge between the bubblegum of modern worship and the heritage of dated hymns.

    YOUR GOD wants you to lead ALL His people to worship in a meaningful way.

  18. Rich makes his point nicely. I see whole groups of demographics left behind by the vapid lyrics of contemporary worship music. Is that what the Lord wants you to do?
    The verse from Revelation is hardly an example of repetitive Scripture. Really. Compare the adolescent anthem of “Our God is an Awesome God” with the hymn which memorialized that Scripture: “Holy, holy, holy”:

    “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
    Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
    Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
    God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

    Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
    Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
    Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
    Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.”

    Powerful lyrics, thundering meoldy, and captivating harmony. Got anything better? Thought not. Are you so rigid in your style that you can turn a deaf ear to all of God’s children?

    YOUR CALL is to find a bridge between the bubblegum of modern worship and the heritage of dated hymns.

    YOUR GOD wants you to lead ALL His people to worship in a meaningful way.

  19. Rich makes his point nicely. I see whole groups of demographics left behind by the vapid lyrics of contemporary worship music. Is that what the Lord wants you to do?
    The verse from Revelation is hardly an example of repetitive Scripture. Really. Compare the adolescent anthem of “Our God is an Awesome God” with the hymn which memorialized that Scripture: “Holy, holy, holy”:

    “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
    Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
    Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
    God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

    Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
    Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
    Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
    Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.”

    Powerful lyrics, thundering meoldy, and captivating harmony. Got anything better? Thought not. Are you so rigid in your style that you can turn a deaf ear to all of God’s children?

    YOUR CALL is to find a bridge between the bubblegum of modern worship and the heritage of dated hymns.

    YOUR GOD wants you to lead ALL His people to worship in a meaningful way.

  20. Rich makes his point nicely. I see whole groups of demographics left behind by the vapid lyrics of contemporary worship music. Is that what the Lord wants you to do?
    The verse from Revelation is hardly an example of repetitive Scripture. Really. Compare the adolescent anthem of “Our God is an Awesome God” with the hymn which memorialized that Scripture: “Holy, holy, holy”:

    “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
    Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
    Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
    God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

    Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
    Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
    Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
    Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.”

    Powerful lyrics, thundering meoldy, and captivating harmony. Got anything better? Thought not. Are you so rigid in your style that you can turn a deaf ear to all of God’s children?

    YOUR CALL is to find a bridge between the bubblegum of modern worship and the heritage of dated hymns.

    YOUR GOD wants you to lead ALL His people to worship in a meaningful way.

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