Old New Worship

While every congregation and Christian group has its unique profile and demographic, I think it’s generally unhealthy to veer away from interwoven worship at our public meetings. At one time our church had a traditional service and a separate contemporary service. That approach increasingly troubled me. We were telling people they were consumers to be catered to, not intergenerational worshippers gathering at God’s throne. We were saying…

  • If you want to sing your own music to the exclusion of everyone else’s, that’s fine. We’ll cater to you.
  • If you want to enjoy your one small slice of musical preference while rejecting all others, that’s fine. We’ll cater to you.
  • If you want to ignore 2000 years of heritage—or if you want to neglect a whole new generation of young worshippers—not problem. We’ll cater to you.
  • If you want to be among the most narrow worshippers in the history of Christianity and only sing the constricted little grouping of songs that you happen to like, fine. We’ll cater to you.

A few years ago, we decided to stop catering and start leading. We introduced our church to Old New worship. I was told it would never work, but it has worked and it will continue to work. It only fails among unusually intolerant folks, for Christianity in all its dimensions has always thrived on being anchored to the rock but geared to the times (as Youth for Christ says in its historic slogan).

Younger worshippers need the legacy of the great hymns; and older worshippers need the exuberance of fresh praise. That’s the long and short of it. Being seeker-friendly doesn’t exclude the great hymns. Modern sinners need to know that Jesus Shall Reign, that Christ the Lord is Risen Today, and that There is a Fountain Filled with Blood. They need to realize There is a Balm in Gilead and Jesus Paid it All.

From my new book Then Sings My Soul Book 3.