If I like all the music at your church that’s a problem. I’m 46. You shouldn’t be aiming your Sunday morning expressions of worship and outreach to dudes like me. If you do that, then that actually means you are spot on for 36 to 56 year olds, and there’s probably very little real measurable evidence that lost 20 somethings are being found at church.
The church is still having the same conversations we had in ’92 when drums first arrived on the scene in the band at my church. Or in ’93 when we introduced “drama” into the service, or in ’00 when I was taking drama out, or in ‘97 when I killed a choir by accident (sorta, wink-wink), or when we first faded to black, or dimmed the house lights, or rented moving lights and set the fire alarm off, or turned our bad system up louder and louder, or put in a video projector that weighted a million pounds, was as big as a VW van, and cost six figures.
The conversation comes from our own brothers and sisters in Christ. More frequently today, it’s even coming from leaders of other churches, and it goes something like:
I don’t like it and this ain’t right.
Christians even younger than me are sniping at leaders in their 20’s because they don’t like it. They don’t like the form, and they just wish it could be like it was in the ______ (fill in your decade). Used to be you had to be super old and the janitor at the church to snipe at a young worship leader and try to get them fired. No more.
Over the past couple of years, I gathered up some college kids and pilgrimaged back to where I spent a good deal of time in the 90’s doing ministry. The phone pics of my last visit are posted here.
I gotta be honest, the low end is so freaky loud it makes my chest hurt, the lighting is an assault on my senses, and I don’t know the music and I hardly keep up. I looked at the college kids I was with and I mouthed, “This is awesome,” in the middle of the opening tune. They laughed.
But I stood there with tears in my eyes thinking two things:
First, I know that what we did in the late 90’s SUCKED compared to this. I am not delusional. But I looked across the aisle, and a diverse church of all colors and ages are singing out the best they could. So I put my hands in the air (which I don’t do often), just like that twenty-something cool-guy across the aisle, and yelled out, “Thank you God!” Many of these people have no idea how to worship (do I?), and most are still new to religion. I mean, until 12 minutes ago they didn’t know there was even such a thing as “Christian” music.
Secondly, I got tears in my eyes and tried not to cry in front of these college kids, and I think I played a little part of this. God used me and some of my best friends to lay some track. See, I remember the first time in the old room when we faded to black and someone asked, “Why did we do that?” I remember when goofy music and static par cans were cutting-edge ministry. It was different. It was changing. God was reaching people and He was using us in our own little way.
Now, thousands upon thousands of people know Jesus at that church because some leaders continue to be more concerned about those not yet there. What if we hadn’t pushed as hard as we did in those days?
I also remember Christian people saying, “I don’t like this.” Just like they’re saying in 2017.
If you are catching the heat at your church, please understand that forty-six-year-old privileged Christians like myself will be fine. If I like the music at church, that seems problematic. I don’t care if 50 is the new 30 — it’s still 50, and there’s not a ton of future for your church when everybody is 50. Can we be real? This is about 12 minutes of my week… and shouldn’t I be serving in the nursery or parking cars anyways?
So in the midst of all the sniping and negativity that flies around, here’s an encouragement to worship leaders and pastors who are reaching out and reaching down: keep creating, keep innovating, and keep reaching out to lost people who are younger and younger. You have the ball. Some of us are tossing it to you.
There aren’t many of you doing it today, but you know what? I’m actually believing there were fewer of us doing this in the 90’s!
Keep turning it up. Keep boldly asking guys like me to help fund the thing that’s going to move the needle on evangelism and discipleship in your church. Challenge people like me to serve somewhere, and hey, if it’s not in the auditorium it won’t be as loud anyways, right?