Generational war for the Church

In some of my posts I have talked about new “legalisms” and old “legalisms” that the Church is facing today.  In some comments on other blogs I pointed out that there seems to be another generational struggle in the Church. 

Keith Drury has written a summary of what he has seen in the Church in the course of his Christian life.  I think that everyone should take a look at it.  He points out 5 stages that he sees in generational takeovers of the Church.   This article will help you to see where you are as an individual or a church. 

As an older adult who went back to school to receive a liberal arts degree, so that I could add it to my resume and further my education, I thought was a change agent that was going to be used by God to change the shortcomings of the Church.  Wrong!  I was late to the fight.  I have been in ministry for 11 years and have only experienced ministry in small struggling churches.  One reason for this is because I did not have a degree to go along with my ordination; that is another post later.  And some of it, is because I just have a burden for these types of churches.  Yet, these types of small churches are like those stories about the Japanese that I used to hear about who were stranded on small Pacific Islands and did not know the war was over.  Most of these small churches do not realize that the Boomer generation has won the worship war and is now fighting to keep what they won from the Emergent generation.  In other word, they have missed an entire war!  It is that way in most of the Wesleyan Church.  AsI have pointed out previously, the Contemporary movement or as Keith Drury refers to them as the Boomers, has won the battle.

I talked to man over a year ago that left a mega-church where he was on thier worship team as a paid musician.  He told me that he was between churches because his church switched to a more aggressive format musically.  In other words, they were playing a little heavier music during their worship services.  He was angry about it.  I realized then that he had forgotten that his church was started because they wanted to play contemporary music.  They were pushing for change; but now they there is a generation who is pushing them for change. 

Here are my thoughts and questions:

  • Is too much evolving, or revolving, in worship a bad thing? 
  • Do we Christians realize that this war that we are in with each other actually does not matter to those who are lost in world?  Whether or not we care to admit it, those people do not care about the type of music or what the sanctuary looks like.  When they come to Jesus, they are just thankful that He loves them and has made a way for them to receive salvation. 
  • When we have this generational war within the Church, can we make the argument that God is changing the Church worship?  You know what I mean, is it black and white?  This argument can be debated without end endlessly. 
  • Is Church supposed to be about us or Him? 
  • Is being missional more important than being attractional?  Or is it supposed to be both?  If both, then which comes first?  The chicken or the egg?

What do you all think?  Personal disclaimer: I can worship God in traditional, contemporary, and emergent settings.  I just want to generate discussion about why people are willing to fight and die over these issues.



Filed under Missional Resources, The Wesleyan Church, Unity?, Worship

6 responses to “Generational war for the Church

  1. Cody Thomas

    Great thoughts bro! I’ve been saying for the last couple years that churches don’t need to be focused on contemporary music because one day (and I believe that day is now) that music will be dated as well.

    Instead, our churches need to have a “theology of change” and a “theology of mission” as a part of their core values. A “change theology” means that the church is always willing to change themselves to better reach the changing culture. A change theology understands that we have to change our methods (without changing the message). It makes the people understand that it’s not about our preferences, because all of us will become the generation of the past someday. We have to realize it’s not about us. It’s about how your church can most effective reach the non-Christian culture around it. Maybe that’s using a traditional service (however, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a location in the US in which that would be the *best* method). Maybe it’s 1980s contemporary music. Maybe it’s 1990s Chris Tomlin contemporary. Maybe it’s more intimate, small coffee house worship setting. Maybe it’s lots of lights, media, etc.

    As for attractional and missional, I see it this way: being attractional should ONLY come out of a passion to be missional; never the other way around.

    The method doesn’t have to be exactly one way for everybody. It does, however, have to be submitted to the questions of “Is this the *best* way to reach today’s changing culture that is locally around us?” and “How can we foresee changes coming in the next 10 years so that we can begin new changes?”

  2. Scott Uselman

    I think you have a good point about theology of change. If this exists, then that forces The Church to engage culture. This is better than us hiding from culture. We Chrisitans should be the experts on understanding our culture and community. I personally think that our area is interested in the Chris Tomlin contemporary music. The rub for my church is that by the time we get this, the new will already be ushered in.

  3. rustyfly

    I can see what you’re saying. I tend to be one of those who pushes an action oriented worship, but I try to always remind myself of giving praise to the King. I have read some people who are still in stage one according to Drury and they are even saying that we should destroy the Church as we know it. It’s kind of harsh. But as far as critiquing the Church, I highly recommend Walter Bruegemman’s “The Prophetic Imagination.” I think he has a better head on his shoulders as far as how to go about the prophetic path, which is not defined by just telling the future, but by speaking the truth of God against the sinner, but for him at the same time. I think we need to push to have understanding between the new and old mindset while advancing the concerns of both, even though I do think we should realize that cultures change over time, especially in the contemporary setting. Grace and peace.

  4. Thanks for the post, and for the link to Drury’s thoughts.

  5. waderog

    I am only speaking for myself, but music and environment were the two most important issues for Noralee and I when choosing a church. Music is like a second language to most people because it connects to the soul and connects us to God. If the music puts me to sleep, then I am not awake for the message. If you did a study of the ten fastest growing churches in American I think you will find cutting edge worship and atmosphere in every one of them. The reason why we are having worship wars is because it is so very important to so many.

  6. Scott Uselman

    You have a good point Wade. My question for those growing churches would be what made them grow? Commitment to a style or worship, commitment to mission, or both? In other words, did the mission spawn the desire for better worship? Or, did good worship spawn the mission?

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