Jonthan Aigner is a Millennial who grew up in the Contemporary Worship settings of his church. Aigner eventually got burned out but found his calling in bringing back the church back to the timeless worship that held the Church up for many year. This includes bringing back the Church the important church liturgy which has been lost somewhat to the so-called concert experience found today in many churches.
In Aigner’s time a handful of those songs were becoming popular hits on Contemporary Christian Music radio. Today’s that has been magnified with songs, like “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord),” “Our God,” and “One Thing Remains.” The later of which is known for its repetitive chorus; ‘you’re love never fails, it never gives up. It never runs out on me.”
I am not speaking out against this because I don’t like it personally (and I really don’t), but because I do believe in that a strong church and a strong Biblical faith is vital to America. Aigner is not alone in this. There are others that have or will sing a song similar to that in the climax of The Who’s rock opera “Tommy.”
We’re not gonna take it. Never did and never will
Don’t want no religion. And as far as we can tell
We ain’t gonna take you. Never did and never will
We’re not gonna take you. We forsake you
Let’s forget you better still.
You could say that the Boomers did the same thing when they joined the Jesus Movement and rebelled against those who stood by the liturgy and hymns. Now those Boomers have become the establishment, and their children are questioning it like their parents and grandparents before. Yes, we can blame our pop culture, our institutions of learning, for indoctrinating our children with a world view that is anti-Judeo-Christian; but we also have to look at ourselves and ask ourselves if we are being Christ like. We also should look at our church programs and ask this question; ‘are we doing this to bring young people to Christ, or do we just like this style? Will Hillsong Young & Free be just as good as like say; The Chainsmokers, Logic or Kygo?’
The disciples of Tommy saw the commercializing of the faith in the “Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Kid” and turned against that above anything else. The genuine Christian faith will feel that same wrath after a time.
I will not knock any church that preaches the full account of the Word of God and seeks to teach sound doctrine. However even the most sound Christian Churches might be playing worship numbers from the Hillsong’s, Jesus Culture’s and Bethel’s of world. You are kind of playing with fire on that one. Both Jesus Culture and Bethel Music are based out of Bethel Church of Redding, California. Hillsong is based out of its flagship church in Sydney, Australia. Both churches have backgrounds in the Assemblies of God denomination (although Bethel became a non-denominational church) and have strong charismatic and Pentecostal backgrounds. It may be possible that these churches hold to certain “Word of Faith” teaching that have been proven to be unbiblical. Not all Pentecostal churches are heretical (and some have spoken out against the ‘Faith Movement’), but they have allowed bad doctrine to come in regardless of they are they part of a domination or not.
Most of the hymns written by the likes of Martin Luther and Fanny Crosby were written in a form that was counter cultural to their respective time periods. While Luther may have taken elements for the current musical trends of folk melodies of his day, he was weary of what was popular. He took basics of the tavern songs but he made sure that these songs he would compose have a high standard (dignity, beauty, and artistry). Quoting Luther’s preface in one of his hymnals;
These songs were arranged in four parts to give the young – who should at any rate be trained in music and other fine arts – something to wean them away from love ballads and carnal songs and to teach them something of value in their place, thus combining the good with the pleasing, as is proper for youth.
Based on that statement alone, I think Luther would not be happy with the current Christian music being used in a Church service. Especially if it’s a Lutheran Church and I know Lutheran Churches that have accommodated the Contemporary Worship crowd. We could talk about his issues with the Jewish people, but that’s another commentary.
Too much of the Contemporary Worship is based on a Top 40 styled playlist. Heck, even some of the classic Calvary Chapel/Maranatha! songs or not preformed or as popular as they used to be (remember “Spirit Song” or “Humble Thy Self (In the sight of the Lord)?). Not all the hymns of the past are perfect and some should never be sung as all. Most of the hymns that are truly timeless have lots of meat in them, and were written for the purpose of congregational singing. Simple enough in melody and rhythm or not pushing the vocal range (although there are options for that for the church choir). They are singable and designed for congregation singing, rather than a vocalist that is front a microphone. Plus with music being a great memory recall, songs like “Holy, Holy, Holy,” or “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” have more meat in the lyrics/words than your typical song that is cranked out by the major Worship Music churches.
Once again, it’s not about style, it’s about something our children can hold onto that is timeless and sacred in ever changing times. If they see Christianity as some form of crony capitalism this may drive them towards the socialists even more (even if the mainline churches are there already)and away from the Christian faith all together. But if they see true honest Christianity in worship, practice, truly concerned about the welling being of their neighbors and something truly counter cultural for the greater good and that mirrors the vision for America and its marco culture, then you will be truly able to pass the faith on to your children.
I think I have made a fair and honest account, other than saying Chris Tomlin (and more) is mediocre.
Are many of our favorite and most-enduring hymns set to tunes borrowed from “drinking” songs, “bar” melodies, or tavern music?
Many of you are now saying, “But that’s not true! Everyone knows Martin Luther did it?”
Nope. Luther certainly didn’t, nor did anyone else who made any meaningful contribution to Christian hymnody. Unless you happen to be a soldier in General Booth’s army, but I digress.
The commercialization of our music for worship has led to a global takeover by a few key players in the so-called “worship industry.” Hillsong is one of the worst offenders. Make no mistake about it: Hillsong is not a church. It is not a network of churches. It is a family business. It is a commercial empire, and through its music, the noxious stench of its shoddy theology and shameless entrepreneurial opportunism wafts throughout Christian thought and as far as the church is found.
We the judge, jury, and executioner of the court of commercial worship apologists find the defendant, what’s-his-name from that damned Ponder Anew blog, guilty of the crime of honestly evaluating our golden boy, Christopher Aloysius Tomlin and other worship superstars. In accordance with a few pauline texts taken completely out of context, we hereby issue some verbal slaps on the wrist for keeping the little children from getting to Jesus through the my chains are gone refrain, “stirring up discord among brethren,” and pointing out that Tomlin’s music is poor, his texts, poorer, and his treatment of existing hymns cringe-worthy. If he doesn’t stop, he will surely go to hell, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth, and where “Good, Good Father” will play on repeat, forevermore, world without end, amen, amen.
This is basically what I remember from my own megachurch youth group experience. Dark, nondescript rooms (My church’s youth group actually met in a converted Safeway grocery store across the street from the main campus!), lots of media and special effects, silly games aimed at warming up the crowd. There would be a “lesson” based on some arbitrarily chosen topic, usually having something to do with being “on fire” for God, resisting peer pressure, or sex. Seriously, megachurch youth groups talk about sex an inordinate amount of the time.
I grew up listening to contemporary Christian music. I’ve still got the Michael W. Smith cassette tapes to prove it. For a Baptist homeschooler, there was really no other option, it seemed. Our church was also contemporary, but in the late 80s and early 90s, that meant we sang little choruses, a few early CCM songs (think Keith Green, Maranatha, that sort of thing) and some gospel hymn medleys, not the stuff we heard on the radio. That’s not the case anymore. While there may not be complete overlap, there is virtually no difference between “church” music and “radio” music.
Some months ago T. David Gordon wrote a post entitled “The Imminent Decline of Contemporary Worship Music: Eight Reasons” that continues to be widely read and shared. While I don’t agree with Gordon on every point, what he says gives us hope for the future of the worshiping church. Alongside his reasons, here are the three main reasons I see for the decline (if not demise) of the contemporary worship movement.
Christian culture’s boycotts rarely do any good. They generally make us look arrogant, aloof, and disconnected, all the while increasing publicity for whoever we’re all riled up about.
Anyone remember the Southern Baptists and their bizarre Disney obsession about 20 years ago?
No, those kind of boycotts are generally not a good idea.