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In today’s media-saturated America, everyone has an opinion. From Bill O’Reilly to Chris Matthews, Rush Limbaugh to Rachel Maddow – and everything in between – there is no shortage of viewpoints. But how many of those perspectives bring you back to a place of passionate, persistent prayer for the nation?

“Viewpoint” allows your Prayer Team’s talented writing team to express their opinions on the political, social and moral issues of the day. At times, you may not agree with all they have to say. But in the end, you will be energized to pray for America, with the prism of Scripture and a decidedly Godly direction as your guide. Plus, you can blog your comments to every article, have your say, and perhaps even receive a response back from the writer.

Read – then pray with an enlightened, more informed viewpoint for your nation and its leaders. 

Worship Wars

ViewpointMillennials caught in the battle of trendy vs. traditional

By Carol Hatcher

There are fashion trends, market trends, population trends and political trends. Should you be surprised there are trends in church? While churches work to keep the Millennials – a Lifeway research survey shows 70 percent will leave the faith in college, while a mere 35 percent will eventually return – one never knows what to expect on a given Sunday morning.

Worship styles are quite a hot topic of conversation within the church. Don’t believe me? Ask your friends and acquaintances on social media what type of worship service they prefer, modern or traditional, and why. Then sit back and watch the maelstrom.

Perhaps you once sat in a classroom with chairs circled for “Sunday School” right before your worship service, but over time you moved to “small groups” on Saturday nights in the comfort of your leader’s home. And finally, the trend has come around; you find yourself back in the classroom setting, only this time its labeled “connect groups.” This is just one of many examples of evolving trends within the church.

Let’s face it. No one wants to do it “the way we’ve always done it.” Shaking things up isn’t a bad idea, but churches need to be wary of completely basing worship styles on the desire to connect with the Millennials. While churches should want all to feel welcome, they must walk the fine line of meeting the needs of everyone in the congregation.

Millennials are ever changing. What appeals to those in their twenties with no children may drastically change as thirty approaches and kids enter the picture. As people age, many gravitate towards the style of worship they experienced in childhood. And those same people who flocked to the hip and contemporary will make a mass exodus to find more tradition.

Most Millennials are drawn to churches with the “un-churchy” feel. They prefer worship music with more of a Christian rock sound. Gone are the days of flipping pages as everyone turns to sing “hymn number 287” or participates in a congregational reading in the back of the hymnal. Or are they?

Andrea Palpant Dilley, the twenty-something author of the book Faith and Other Flat Tires, returned to a traditional church after attending a modern church for two years. “I felt homeless in heart, I missed intergenerational community, I missed hymns and historicity, sacraments and old aesthetics,” she said.

Lisa Hoffman, a Generation X’er from Dacula, Georgia, agrees: “As long as there is a true attitude of worship, I’m not so concerned with the style of the service as a whole. But I’m afraid that too often the concern is pleasing the worshipers and not so much pleasing the One to be worshipped. And yes, that can happen in a church with any style worship service. I expect church to be a coming together of humble, like-minded worshippers, not entertainment for the masses,” she says.

Ray Blanton, a worship leader from Fayette, Alabama, speaks of compromise. “I have transitioned three churches to a more blended style of worship in the past 20 years. Some have been easy and some have been war! I love doing intergenerational things with my adult, youth and children’s choir.”

So, you may be left wondering, “What would Jesus do?”

Jesus didn’t follow the way it was always done. He constantly challenged the Pharisees in the way they were “doing church.” While the Pharisees were well versed in the law, Jesus saw through it.

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9)

As always, Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter; literally, the heart is where this matter is resolved.

So is it right or wrong for churches to change worship styles whether to keep the Millennials or just to follow current trends? Neither. As long as believers are coming together to offer praises to their Savior, it shouldn’t matter whether it’s from an antique hymn book or from words on a Jumbotron screen. While churches should be mindful of congregational preferences, this shouldn’t happen at the expense of their one true purpose – to worship the Creator.

Blanton summed it up best when he said, “When we get to heaven there will not be a traditional, blended or contemporary service. We all will be gathered around the throne singing praises as one voice to the Lamb of God.” Amen.

Carol Hatcher is a former elementary school teacher turned writer, and is a regular contributor to the Vantage Point devotional series. This southern belle lives with her husband and three children in Buford, GA.

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