Sunday, July 31, 2005

just not normal

I've always known that I'm weird, but I never realized just how unusual a teen I was...or I unusual I seem to be. When I talk with teenagers or preteens in my parents' congregation, they all seem to say the same thing, "Worship should be more contemporary." I suppose, in teh past, I probably said the same thing...but now, I wouldn't dream of saying such a thing. Don't get me wrong, I listen to contemporary Christian music, everyday, but a "contemporary" worship service does not appeal to me. I want the worship service to be vivacious and full of life, but there are many ways to achieve this. So many teens seem to think that the only way they can feel alive during worship is if they are singing contemporary songs and are free to jump around. However, one needn't be a body in motion to feel alive...

Now, understand that I am not saying that contemporary worship is terrible and those that participate in it are not Christians. That is actually far from what I'm trying to get at. I know many strong Christians that prefer contemporary worship. What I wish everyone would understand is that one form of worship is not inherently better than another. Those who prefer traditional worship should not spend their time pointing out the flaws of contemporary worship, nor should contemporary worshipers focus on the flaws found in traditional worship, and someone whose worship falls somewhere in between should not feel that they have the right to look down on either of the other groups. We are all the body of Christ, and we mustn't allow a difference of opinion concerning worship to divide us. If we want to draw unbelievers to the Lord, we must remain united, and we must preach the love of Christ, not our love for our worship style. Evangelism should not be an infomercial for your congregation. So, if I'm not bashing contemporary worship, why did I lead by pointing out the fact that I don't prefer contemporary worship? I want to explain why I enjoy traditional worship services. I want my more contemporary brothers and sisters to understand that I feel alive in a traditional worship setting and that the high they get from worship is not reserved solely for the contemporaries.

I love it when worship makes me feel truly connected to my Lord, when the service helps to cultivate my relationship with Him. That is why I love the covenant renewal worship at Christ the Redeemer. It's not just songs about God's love, and yet, God's love is apparent throughout the service. For instance, bowing for confession. Confession is such an important part of worship. It is a time when we humble ourselves before our Lord and admit to Him that we aren't perfect and we have erred. He forgives us out of His immense grace and mercy. It's amazingly awesome that our God should care about us enough to continually forgive us, and it is my belief that confession not only brings about forgiveness and healing, it's a humbling way to show that the Lord is sovereign and that we love Him enough to obey Him and conform to His will for us.

Yes, in a traditional service, we sing hymns...psalms...and old hymns...but that's totally okay. I mean, it's not about what kind of song you are singing. Sometimes, songs do have thee's and thou's and thy's, but does that make them mean less? No. I know the Lord will understand no matter what language is used. Yet, I really must say that I am drawn to the hymns. I love hearing the congregation singing in harmony. Unison is cool, but everyone contributes something different in the Church, and I feel like harmonizing is rather symbolic of that. Different voices, different parts blend together to make beautiful music to glorify the Lord. In such a setting, the everyone is contributing to the beautiful music being created. Any one person could sing that song and have it be okay, but when you have the harmonies, oh! It's amazing! I love it. Perhaps, I'm making it more symbollic than it should be, but I do love it, and it contributes to my worship experience.

Now, I must say, I am also a big fan of a solid half hour or so long sermon. I like to learn about my Lord. I enjoy gaining insight into how I can better serve my Lord, and the Lord has blessed us with pastors who can help us to gain that who can help to instruct us.

I think another thing that really attracts me to traditional worship is the presence of adults in the service. I like worshipping with godly men and women much older than I. I look up to them, and I enjoy learning from their examples and observations. I mean, I enjoy worshipping with my peers. I love sitting next to my friends (you guys know I love you), but as much as my friends help me grow, I still need to see mature adults so I can be reminded of who I want to become. I want to grow up to be a godly wife and mother more than anything. I want to serve the Lord; so, if that's not He wants for me, then I will abandon that dream, but I really want to grow up and get married and raise wonderful God-fearing children. *sigh* That is part of the reason it is so important for me to worship with mothers and fathers...I want to learn what it means to have a godly family. I watch those families and observe how they reflect the Lord's love...I feel that worshipping with mature adults challenges me to mature more, myself. I mean, I can learn a lot from worshipping with my peers, but I am immature in my faith, and by worshipping with those much more mature than I, I am reminded of the journey before me and challenged to press on. (If that makes any sense.)

So, in summary, (I know this was the part you were really waiting for) a traditional approach to worship is not all bad. Some may think that it's the traditional worship that is responsible for Christians getting tagged as "boring and dull", but I'm not convinced that's the case. Traditional worship is not always a turn-off to unbelievers, believe it or not. Sometimes the perception people have comes from our reactions. I love the Lord, and for that reason, worshipping Him is not boring to me. Remember that "traditional" doesn't mean "dull"...some of us are actually very vivacious and bubbly, just give us a chance. Remember that the Church must be united if it is to really seek out unbelievers. We can not allow differences in worship style to divide us, nor can we promote our own congregations as if we were on an infomercial. The most important thing, the focus of all worship, is the almighty God.

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