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May 14, 2014

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Is Your Church Rushing to the 1980s?

by Kenny Lamm
1980s church

My family was out of state this past weekend and attended a “blended” service Sunday morning. I realize many of our churches are struggling to determine what their corporate worship should look like, but unfortunately (as I experienced this weekend), what I see in most settings is a rush to move from the 1950s to the 1980s.

While moving forward 30 years is certainly progress, it leaves quite a bit to be desired.

I see so many churches that are seeking to transition by starting with the praise and worship choruses from the 70′s and 80′s (ex. I Love You Lord, More Precious Than Silver, & As the Deer) and ignore the great, rich songs coming from this decade. To ignore the great music of this decade ignores how God is active in the church TODAY. Also, in general, the music of this decade is much more rich in theology than the 70′s and 80′s.

The songs of the earlier period are often the ones that are referred to as “7-11″ choruses–songs with 7 words that you sing 11 times. Some of those songs are very useful, and they certainly were pivotal in our worship transitions of the last century, but I urge you to not use that era of songs as your main diet for adding new songs to your corporate worship services. The vast majority of the songs in the top CCLI lists do not come from the earlier era. Also, the songs of the earlier era don’t necessarily speak in styles that are comprehensible by the non-churched community as well as more recent compositions.

Many churches are turning to their outdated hymnals for “modern” worship songs, and therefore are quite limited in the possibilities. Fortunately, LifeWayWorship.com is a great resource to find the most modern songs in keys that are attainable for your congregation (as well as older songs).

With help in selecting songs, check out this post.

If you are trying to determine what your church’s corporate worship should look like, consider attending a Worship Summit or Worship Leader Boot Camp.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 26 2014

    When planning a service, I attempt to make sure multiple generations of Christian tradition are represented, not to appeal to everyone, but because we need that more as modern people than ever before.

    My rule of thumb is to try not to pick two elements from the same century. If that’s not possible, I try to keep them at least fifteen years apart. This helps us to remember who we are and where we’ve come from. Corporate worship isn’t about what makes us feel the best about God or helps us “connect” to God, it’s about an informed response to what we know of God’s character.

  2. Bob Clark
    Jul 10 2014

    I recently came to a church that congregational singing was primarily (only) traditional hymns as a rule, but the choir would sing some modern worship songs as specials. They attempted a couple years before I came, to add some choruses from the 80′s. When I came on board I had the thought “How do I bring them up to date” while respecting their love for hymns and bringing more relevant music for younger generations. Instead of trying to time warp and go through the last 50 years of songs, I used the choir to add the songs they have been singing, bring the congregation in on the last verse and chorus, then eventually adding these songs to our worship liturgy. Its a longer process, but we learn them together. Also using modern arrangements of hymns, keeping the melodic lines, just adding a different “feel”. I would say that the Praise choruses had their place but there is much more depth to modern worship songs and hymns if you are wise and selective.

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