One of the most asked questions in the church and the Christian music industry is “Where is worship going?”. It’s more like “Where is the sound of worship going?”.
I write this post talking about style and genre, not necessarily a particular spiritual direction, even though the direction of style and genre play a huge role in the spiritual direction for the church.
I have recently been hit with a new perspective on country music. I have always found myself saying, “I hate country music and can’t stand it”. I would then turn on my iPod and select tracks from artists such as Mumford and Sons, Gregory Alan Isakov, Fleet Foxes, The Lumineers, etc. My wife would sit there and laugh at me and say “You know this is country, right?”. Of course, I was talking about mainstream country that sings about tractors, divorces, etc. I never realized that folk was a form of country.
I believe there is a strong movement of folk music in the music industry all together. It has always been there, but now it is has started making its way to mainstream. High schoolers are liking Mumford and Sons, which doesn’t really fit, but by this, it has allowed me to listen to The Lumineers on the radio. That’s crazy. A radio station that was heavily infested with GaGas, Dawgs, and artists whose first names are ‘Lil” are now playing music with less auto-tune.
I like to live by the phrase “To each its own”. So if you don’t like folk or agree with me, that is fine, to each its own. I still believe it is making a movement in the church on some level. A lot of people, not all, in the church have been blasted in the face for too long with the loudness, the performances, and cool lighting during their time of worship. Many people have expressed to me that they are tired of this. Again, let me emphasize, there is nothing wrong with this. I have been a part of this type of worship for years. If you are a worship leader or pastor who works at a church with this environment, I am not saying you are doing it wrong at all. If it works great for your community, keep doing it. There is always a place for it. I am also not saying, that it is not okay to “rock out” in church. I enjoy a good “rock out” for Jesus. It is a form of worship. My favorite worship album this past year was “For The Sake of The World” by Bethel. The intensity is loud on that album, but even their most sold album was “The Loft Sessions” and that is a broken down acoustic/percussion driven album with some banjo flavor added to it.
People are looking for something real and authentic. Hurting people. Many people have been burned by the church and are looking for something different. Not a different God, but a different approach to the way they can worship Him and experience Him within a community. In my travels, I have been seeing a lot of churches bringing a more liturgical approach to the structures of their services. Churches that are “Non-Demoninational” and/or more on the “Evangelical/Charismatic” side. This is beautiful to me; reciting of scripture together, taking communion every Sunday, and people greeting each other with “grace and peace”. I feel like I can find myself getting a chance to breathe. I feel like I can finally hear myself pray, sing, and even listen in better. This is especially a better approach for people who have ADD, like me, who follow strobes that go from one side of the room to the other. I think the saying “less is more” is becoming more powerful than most people think.
I am not a fan of the split in denominations. I do not like the idea of churches conflicting in differences over theology, or even small matters. I do believe in the differences of preferences and I am all for gatherings that can accommodate everyone’s different preference to help connect them to Christ in the personal way they need it. I do not believe in this on a level of disunity. Sadly, this is almost impossible to keep from happening. In saying all of this, I have been seeing a folk movement in worship in this environment more and more. Worship artist’s such as Gungor, All Sons and Daughters, and Rend Collective are some artists in the industry have been starting to present this approach and it has been working real well. Most would say very refreshing.
Personally, in my own music career, I am considering the possibility of experimenting with this style for my next record as well. I am not saying its a 100% go or if I can even pull it off, but I am going to explore the option because this is where I see worship going and it is beautiful sound. Not replicating the sound, but incorporating it into my own sound that I like to think I have created. As an artist, creating my own sound, I have to pull from the music around me. Any artist who tells you they don’t is lying. I encourage you to read the book called “Steal Like An Artist” by Austin Kleon. It will open your mind to creating.
Worship leaders: I believe whatever style you decide to lead worship in, if your heart is right, Christ is still honored. Keeping Christ first and the church second, you can’t go wrong with any style you choose. Though, I encourage you to explore all options and find your sound. If you are a Hillsong based church, try breaking it down one Sunday with a banjo. Surprise people. Throw them off their routine. Challenge them to worship Christ out of their comfort zone. Challenge yourself to lead out of your comfort zone. Music is art. Worship is also art. As long as Christ is glorified, there is no right or wrong answer. This post is simply my opinion and what I believe I see growing in the church. Now get to fiddling.