Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The myth of "contemporary"

At Worship Matters, Bob Kauflin quotes from Music Connection by Russ Breimeier. Breimeier's professional responsibility is to keep track of, and write about popular Christian music. He says "I’m almost completely surrounded by Christian culture in my everyday life." And yet:
The strange part to me is this: Most of my friends enjoy music to some degree, and we certainly enjoy talking about it from time to time. But be it friends or family, the majority of them really don’t listen to much Christian music—if any. Furthermore, I’d say a lot of my Christian friends have expressed that they generally don’t enjoy Christian music. And those I know who do support Christian music have noticed the same thing.
And Jared Wilson at Gospel Driven Church has noticed that music in worship isn't as important in keeping young people as has often been thought:
I won't say music style doesn't matter. I think it does. I'm not a big fan of traditional worship myself (I like traditional substance with a modern style). But I don't think music is preeminent, and it certainly doesn't seem to factor in to the research on why young people are dropping out of churches like crazy.

Trevin Wax has a great post this week on the myth of "contemporary" style as twentysomething magnet. ....
I talked to a handful of 20somethings who dropped out of church for a few years and are now back and engaged. When I asked them about the worship style of our church (we’re a mix between blended and traditional), the answers were all different. Most of them indicated that they would rather we sing less and get to the preaching quicker. “That’s what we’re there for,” said one. Others mentioned how much they loved the organ. A couple mentioned that the “hymns” could be hard sometimes, but that they wanted to learn them anyway, as they felt they were important.

My generation is musically fragmented. Some of my classmembers like Country music. Others like P.O.D. and Disciple. Some are into soft rock. One loves anything Classical. The majority like folksy rock, but there’s no consensus. The Iraq war veteran in our class (tattooed and tough) has a soft spot for the Carpenters, Celtic chants, and the crooners of the 40’s and 50’s. iTunes and iPods. We are a generation of many styles.

The idea that a “contemporary” music service is going to reach my generation just makes me laugh. No one in my class is there for the music. They are all there for the relationships and the Bible teaching. Not that the music is unimportant… it’s just not central.

Even funnier is the mindset among the Boomer generation that if we were to start using the organ and singing hymns again that all the young people would leave. The Boomer generation is making the same mistake that their parents did, thinking that what attracted them to church is what will attract their kids. Sorry. It isn’t happening. Furthermore, musical style isn’t much of a factor anyway.
One of the difficulties with being "contemporary" is that what is "now" only lasts a moment.

Keeping Up On the Latest Christian Music, Gospel Driven Church: Meet the New Seeker Church; Same as the Old Seeker Church (Kinda)


  1. Jim, thanks so much for the link!

  2. Jared,
    You're welcome. There is a lot of thoughtful material at your site.


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