OK, let me be straight from the start: I’m not a fan of modern worship songs. That’s not to say I think they’re wrong – I’m sure they’re great (for some) – they’re just not for me. In my mind, there’s nothing better than an organ with all the stops pulled out. In my mind, electric guitars and churches just don’t go together – it’s too loud; I find it impossible to tell what note I’ll be singing next, or when the chorus is going to start again.
However, I also understand that not everyone’s like me. In a world with music like today’s, many will undoubtedly find the organ old fashioned. The word “choir” may, on its own, be enough to send someone to sleep. It may also be true that older congregations are more likely to enjoy the organ, while younger congregations are more likely to enjoy a band (although this, of course, isn’t always true).
Today though, I think many Churches are making a big mistake. Despite the fact that the congregation are quite happy with their little old village organ, churches today are scrapping that old, boring wind instrument. Instead, they’re bringing in their new, exciting guitars and loud drum sets. But why are they doing this, despite the congregation not wanting the new music? Well, to get the kids in.
Many Church leaders today seem to think that the reason they don’t have any young congregation members is because their music isn’t modern enough. And so, despite a deadly frown from Mrs. Smith in the second pew, the vicar orders a new set of drums. Next week, once the kids hear those drums (accompanied by the rocking voice of the reluctant Mrs. Smith), the average age of the congregation will surely half, at least.
But wait, next week comes and the congregation is still no younger. The kids walk by the Church door, but still don’t come in. It just so turns out that starting a worship band wasn’t the answer to the lack of kids in Church.
Does your Church have this problem? If so, it won’t be the only one. The truth is, the music isn’t the problem; there’s only one solution to the problem which many Churches face today, and it’s this: preach the gospel. Actively preach the gospel, because that’s the only reason why anyone will ever come to Church. People don’t come to Church unless they’re a Christian, and they don’t become a Christian unless they accept the gospel.
Of course, preaching the gospel doesn’t just mean standing in the pulpit for ten minutes each Sunday – the kids aren’t going to hear your sermon from the football field. Instead, Churches must go out and preach. Start a youth group; work with the local schools – there are countless ways of bringing the Church and young people together, and they’ll all be different depending on where your Church is.
Sure, once the kids start coming to Church, it may be that you decide you need to have some modern worship songs; if scrapping the organ and forming a band works best for your Church, then there’s nothing wrong with that (providing the more traditional members aren’t excluded as a result). But don’t fall into the trap of thinking worship songs are going to bring the kids into Church, because they’re not. Don’t make poor old Mrs. Smith sing songs she doesn’t want to in the hope that the kids will pour in, because that’s not how it works. All people, whether young or old, will only ever come to Church for one reason: the gospel. Not the music, not the coffee and not the beautiful stain glass window sitting above the high altar. No, they will only ever come for the gospel. Preaching the gospel is therefore the only way to get kids into Church.
So Church leaders, think twice before ordering that new drum kit. Is it really going to solve your problem? Try preaching the gospel instead.