It’s easy to criticize today’s worship music. Too easy.
“It’s repetitive!” “It’s too loud!” “It’s theologically shallow!” “And it’s repetitive!”
Similar criticisms have been made for every generation of new music. When harmony was brought in, when instruments were brought in, when hymnbooks were brought in… Everything we love about worship music was criticized when it was new. (Click here for a quick history of some of these criticisms.)
But every new era of worship music also brings some great developments, too. This era is no exception.
Here are some of the wonderful trends I see happening.
(This is the first of a two-part series. Click here to read my follow-up article, 4 Positive Trends That Could Make Today's Worship Music Even Better.)
1. A LOT Of Songs Are Being Written
If you don’t like the newest song your church is singing, wait a week. There will be another new one coming along. This excess of new songs is something that many in my generation (Baby Boomers and older) tend to be very critical of, but I believe it’s a positive step.
Every generation needs to write their own worship songs. And this generation is taking advantage of that opportunity.
The flood of new music may feel overwhelming and confusing to some, but the potential confusion is overwhelmed by the amazing array of choices.
More music may mean more mediocre songs, but it opens the door for more good ones too, since it acts as an encouragement to other songwriters who might not otherwise offer their gift to the church.
2. Younger Generations Have A Voice In The Church
Just as the best books tend to be written by older people, the best music tends to be written and performed by the young.
Every generation has something to contribute to the life of the church, so it’s great to see how the burgeoning worship music scene is attracting talented youth and keeping the church young, vibrant and innovative.
3. The Positive Contributions Of Women Are Being Recognized
It wasn’t long ago that worship teams were almost exclusively led by male vocalists. In fact, it was common to hear church people complain that they couldn’t worship well following a female lead vocalist.
Thankfully, that has become a non-issue in most churches.
Women are just as likely to be leading worship teams, playing instruments and writing great songs as the guys are.
4. Many Worship Teams Have Multiple Lead Singers
Not only was old-school worship almost exclusively led by male singers, but most worship teams had one lead singer, with all other vocalists as backups.
Today, it is common for worship teams to have three or four different lead singers in a set of four or five songs.
This is healthy, not just for the team, but for the congregation, since it reduces the attention being paid to an individual singer.
This is an important sign of humility in an area of ministry that can too easily attract divas.
5. Old Songs Are Being Given New Life
Not only are new songs being written, but there’s a growing appreciation for those who laid the foundation that got us where we are.
It’s not unusual to hear a new song that borrows heavily from the words and melodies of old hymns like Amazing Grace, I Surrender All, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, I Stand Amazed, It Is Well, Jesus Paid It All, At The Cross, and many more.
While this trend of putting new arrangements and updated choruses to old hymns is not without its critics, I rejoice in the fact that these songs are being introduced to new generations.
Not all current worship trends are positive, of course. But I’ve always believed that you get better results by finding and praising the positive aspects of something than by harping on the negative aspects – especially when what’s negative is often little more than discomfort with change.
Too many of my contemporaries are making the same complaints about today’s music that we heard our parents’ generation make when we brought in the “Jesus music” of the 1960s and 70s. Today, like then, there are far more good trends in worship music than negative ones.
But there’s always room for improvement.
In my next post, I want to nudge us forward a little bit by taking a look at 4 Positive Trends That Could Make Today's Worship Music Even Better.
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