Dr. Charles Revis, Executive Minister, ABC of the Northwest

The following reflections on worship come from Chad Marvin, Pastor of Worship and Arts at The Summit Church in Boise, ID. These are thoughtful words for all who struggle with the shifts in music style, a necessary move to reach various cultures and generations for Christ:

"One of the questions that surfaces from time to time is why we provide the type of music we do during corporate worship. Some would prefer to hear all things contemporary, while others would prefer all things traditional.

For many people traditional music provides them with rich experiences with Jesus. These songs make up a good portion of their heart language. They are reminded of who God is and what He's done and what He's doing now. They can draw us in and contribute to wonderful moments in His presence. Many of these songs do not have generational boundaries. They have the power to reach any age. Occasionally, I'll have someone, even in their teens, ask if we could do a hymn like "How Great Thou Art" or "Amazing Grace" or an older chorus like "Great Is the Lord." I think that's cool!

However, I've also come to understand that what speaks to one culture may not speak to another. I'd like to believe that this isn't true. I'l like to believe that whatever I've experienced: whatever has moved me, whether it be a particular type of music or something else, whatever has drawn me closer to Jesus; would be the same thing that will draw everyone else from every walk of life to Him. If that were true, being in the service of my Creator King would be so much easier. But, that isn't the case.

Different cultures are moved by different forms of communication and each culture has its own heart language. This has been the struggle with worship music even as hymnody was coming into play centuries ago. Isaac Watts (author of "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" and 750 more hymns) was told that he shouldn't be writing lyrics that weren't taken directly from the Psalms. Critics admonished he should only be writing "inspirational hymns." For some, Watts' "uninspired hymns" didn't make the cut and he was beaten up for his music on several occasions. If you're not familiar with the music of Isaac Watts, take some time and look up his name on the internet. You may be surprised at what you learn.

Like many churches, the Summit Church is made up of several different cultures; people from different walks of life. When it comes to music here, some people are drawn into a rich experience with Jesus through older choruses; some by listening to a piano solo during communion and others through the sweet voice of an oboe playing the opening lines of "Come Thou Fount." So we have the 8:30 AM service which is blended with all of the above.

Still others are drawn in by the steady beat of the band and the lyrics of the song "Bring the Rain" by Mercy or "Here I Am" by Downhere. Many would prefer a more driving worship experience with the music of Hillsong. So we have a contemporary service at 11:00 AM.

It's not perfect by any stretch. We don't always manage to speak to everyone with their heart language. I don't expect we ever will. I can't imagine we could do better than Isaac Watts though (I don't expect we'll ever come close), and I do believe that God works through the music and corporate worship every week in powerful ways. I'm so looking forward to worshiping with you this fall and throughout the coming year."

2010 © Dr. Charles Revis, ABC Northwest
[This article is from Dr. Revis’ blog, www.missionnorthwest.blogspot.com]