Modern Worship – Time for a new Term

About 3 weeks ago My dad who is the pastor of our church came asked me a question.

“What makes modern music Modern”

My answer was can’t you tell the difference? We both agreed we could but it really didn’t make much sense what made a song sound like 2007. Look at whats out there right now. Christina Aguilera has a CD out right now which is pretty much all 1920’s sounding music. It seems what makes something  so called modern is in the production of the music. So what makes the worship music Modern or not modern?

An interesting post was done on the song Everlasting God, by Brenton Brown, on both my blog and on Ragamuffin Soul. Los over there said the song wasn’t very 2007 and wondered how he could fix that. I wrote a post on it myself and agreed but wrote that as worship leaders we need to play stuff we might not enjoy or even like for the sake of the worship of the congregation.
Los decided to play it and it has since grown on him and they have done it a bunch of times in church now. The congregation loves it. His church is a very “hip” church. So why do they love the song,  a song that no matter how you play it (even his way)  does not sound like it was written after the year 2000?

I thought about this a whole bunch. I realized that as musicians we are looking for modern worship. Music that gets our guitars crankin’ and amps to 11. This is ok but also as musicians we get bored quick while the congregation doesn’t.  As worship leaders we shouldn’t think in the same way. We should be looking for music that is relevant.  This is my new buzz word. I want relevant worship not modern worship. I love crankin guitars but that isn’t what gets people to worship. relevance does. The songs need to be relevant in sound, emotion, lyrics, and spirit to the culture in our towns and congregations. My worship team practiced there is no one like you by crowder. Killer song. Modern through and through. It’s a great song, but we aren’t doing it in church because it isn’t relevant to our church. We do other so called modern songs that are fast and crankin’ but they are relevant.

I urge the worship leaders who read this to take a good look at their catalog of music. Take stock in what is relevant and what is just done because it is cool or modern. There is a time for most styles and lyrics of worship, but understanding what is relevant to your congregation and what can help bring them into the throneroom is key.


12 responses to “Modern Worship – Time for a new Term”

  1. Paul J. Avatar

    Well said…

  2. klampert Avatar

    thanks paul…

  3. frdave Avatar

    If the Spirit can cause the rocks to cry out in praise then I would imagine he can cause a song written in the 70s with a bad tune and no substance to do the same. Might keep us humble. Thanks Joel

  4. Phil Avatar

    Good thoughts, Joel. Relevance has multiple meanings too; I hope you’re referring to the one that’s closest to “what do these people need?” in a spiritual and musical sense.

    We’ve so many influences today, some excellent and committed to truth, some tasty but pretty much carbs spiritually speaking.

    As leaders in the worship venue we have a responsibility to be good stewards of what our flocks hear when they’re in the fold (at church). Sometimes they want chocolate cake for breakfast just like on the Cosby show re-runs. That they like it doesn’t make it relevant – just in demand.


  5. klampert Avatar

    good point…Which is basically what im saying just because it is cool doesnt mean it is relevant. I think songs need to be chosen for reasons. TO challenge, admonish, to glorify, to lift up…etc etc. What I’m basically saying is stay away from doing something that is modern just because it is. Look for what is relevant look for what does what you want it to and brings people into worship.
    I think because pretty much anything Christian music out there is worship we want to do the newest thing out there…I dont have a problem with that….but check to make sure that the words line up with where your church is at or where you want it to head.

  6. snowjunkie Avatar

    Good post Klampert. We can’t exclude songs from our set lists just because they are old. We need to prayerfully select songs for our services to ensure that they are relevant to what God will do. I believe we are guided when we give it over to Him.

    Often I will pick songs and a band member will comment – “Awww not that song…”. Immediately I feel – “Heck, maybe they’re right… I probably shouldn’t play this…”.

    However, when I stick to my guns and play it, it is usually amazing and I get my own back on the doubting Thomas’ after the service! 😉

    God is good!

  7. worshipcity Avatar

    True, true, all around. Just because something is labeled ‘Christian’ or even ‘Modern Worship Music’ doesn’t mean its good or needs to be played at your church! We often get lazy and use that in our defense of playing crappy songs or inappropriate songs as you say. I agree with all of it, I’d love to mention this: ‘modern’ music changes. What was ‘modern’ has changed throughout history. There will come a day when guitar led choruses cranked to 11 will be frowned upon as old fashioned and out dated. Us long haired ‘Emergent Worship Leaders’ or whatever we’ll be labeled will be a thing of the past if we decide to lock in to what’s modern now.

  8. snowjunkie Avatar

    I’ve heard the term “emergent” a lot recently… has anyone got a good definition of that?

  9. klampert Avatar

    yeah…I’ll be doing a post on that soon…There are different forms of emergent and emergent church. Some are in line biblically and some aren’t. Look out for it next week.

  10. steveej Avatar

    Amen and Amen! The one thing I would add is that many of us have bought the concept that “modern” worship MEANS “relevant” worship. Because of our being consumed with “cultural relevance” in the church today, we have understood modern to be synonomous with relevant. However, as you point out, this is not the case. Modern music simply means music done in the common style current today. You know, 1-4-5-6minor… Acoustic guitar driven, folk, pop and rock influenced. This all has absolutely NOTHING to do with spiritual, emotional, or intellectual relvance. If this were true, then no music before the current style would have made any impact on the lives of Christians anywhere. Just as you described Agulara’s latest album style as “1920’s”, modern albums are done in a style consistent with the current trends in music. Remember, that 1920’s style music was once “modern music”

  11. steveej Avatar

    Oh, I almost forgot… it does not have to be “modern” to be cool. There is a lot of cool music from the past.

  12. klampert Avatar

    Steve: great comments. Glad you stopped by you were spot on. I checked out your site also…nice

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