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Contemporary Worship

I go to a Southern Baptist Church. The members of the church are in a dispute regarding songs being sung during the church service - older people like hymns while younger/middle aged people like choruses with drums, guitars, etc. We also have a fairly new pastor who is trying to please everyone, so we have a "traditional" service at 8:00 a.m. and a "contemporary" service at 10:45 a.m. The problem is, the pastor is 37 years old and likes the contemporary service better because these people say, "Amen" and other sayings.

Some of us traditional people wonder if we aren't letting the "world" dictate the style of worship we have. We have had over 100 new members join since our new pastor came, but they're all "contemporary." They raise their hands, etc., which makes us feel uncomfortable. We were taught to "sit down and shut up," while this new generation likes to "get with the program." I can feel the Spirit while singing "Just As I Am," but these new people think hymns are "old timey." Does the Bible deal with this subject?

May I just say that I appreciate a Christian who wants to know what the scriptures have to say about a particular subject? That’s exactly what Paul asked on several occasions—“What saith the scriptures.” That should be the question that governs every Christian’s life.

I’ll give you 3 passages to consider. The first passage is found in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. It might be helpful to realize that Jeremiah did not have a lot to show for his efforts as far as numbers are concerned. In spite of it all, he preached the word of God just like his predecessors had done. He did not alter the message to accommodate the crowd nor did he use some contemporary method to reach the masses. Notice what he said in chapter 6 and verse 16. “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ASK FOR THE OLD PATHS, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” The LORD wasn’t interested in the contemporary paths. He was interested in His people walking in the old paths. If Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8), I believe He still is interested in having His people walk in those old paths.

The second passage is also found in Jeremiah, and it addresses something you said about folks wondering “if we aren’t letting the ‘world’ dictate the style of worship we have.” I read an article recently about a large, influential Baptist church in Virginia who sent their “contemporary worship leader” to Las Vegas, Nevada to observe Wayne Newton in concert. He took his notebook along with him to learn from a master showman. That’s not the way Christians are supposed to act. Jeremiah warned God’s people about this sort of thing in Jeremiah 10:2 “Thus saith the LORD, LEARN NOT THE WAY OF THE HEATHEN, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.”

The last passage is found in 2 Samuel 6:1-11. In this passage David attempts to bring the ark of the covenant to the city of David. It was a total disaster. In fact, one man was killed because of this. What was the problem? David tried to haul the ark on a NEW cart instead of having the Levites carry the ark like God commanded. Not only was the method wrong, it was copied from the Philistines. In 1 Samuel 4, the Philistines defeated the children of Israel and took the ark to their cities. God began to plague the Philistines and they sent the ark back to Israel ON A CART! A contemporary service with contemporary bibles and contemporary music is a Philistine service.

May I also recommend that if you are looking for some material on the types of music that are appropriate to be played and/or sung in church, I would direct you to an article by Pastor Reagan. It is entitled, “Music in the New Testament Church” and can be found at the following web address:

Karl Lohman
Daily Proverb

Proverbs 28:6

Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.