This past Sunday morning the pastor of the church we have been visiting for the last several months talked about his plans for the church in 2013. Perhaps the one thing he talked about most was his plan to introduce the concept of what he called “blended worship.” That is, his plan to integrate more contemporary pieces into the Sunday morning worship service rather than just singing more traditional hymns. He said that he came to the conclusion that this decision is necessary based on the fact that he has noticed that the people of this generation have not been participating in the song service. He said that by integrating more contemporary pieces into the service the younger people in the church would be more apt to participate. But why is this? And is this something that we should really want?
In the past decade or so, I have seen this issue brought up many times. And at some point in these discussions, the following belief is usually mentioned at least once: “We must change with the times.” But where is this written within the Bible? The answer is nowhere. In fact, Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” If Jesus never changes and His Word never changes, then why should we?
I am all for changing for the better, but the only change I see with this generation is all for the worst. I see young people distant from their parents and family. I see teens dropping out of school left and right; and it is not so they can go to work to help provide for their families like it was in the old days, but it is because they are just plain lazy. I see college people strung out on drugs and alcohol. The air is polluted with filthy language and dirty jokes. I see young parents walking through the grocery store with hoods over their heads and earbuds shoved in their ears. But why is this? The answer can be found in Proverbs 22:6 which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” It really is that simple. We are not training up our children in the way they should go.
In Steve Green’s song “Find Us Faithful,” he says, “May the fire of our devotion light their way.” I grew up watching my mother get down on her knees before a pure and holy God. I spent my childhood having Bible time in my grandmother’s living room. I grew up knowing that every night my great-grandmother would sit down at her kitchen table and continue her journey through God’s Word as part of her commitment to read through the Bible in its entirety every year. I grew up in a household where God and His Word were respected and revered and the principles found in His Word were taught to be essential for successful living. It wasn’t about a religion but a relationship with the one true God.
One of my former teachers who I respect very much wrote the following a couple years ago:
Furthermore, hymns are an enduring thread running through church history. Knowing that Christians throughout the centuries have sung the same rich songs should bind our hearts together and help transmit to our children and grandchildren the spiritual heritage that has been passed down more than 2,000 years. Martin Luther, St. Francis of Assisi, the Wesleys, Fanny Crosby — all are hymn writers from various ages whose work is too rich to lose. We cannot allow the next generation to think that their faith exists alone!
She’s right. It is not an issue of what tickles the ear; it is about one generation sharing with the other a passionate love for the One who gave His life for them. It is not about a tradition, for traditions come and go. But it is about following the example of Jesus Christ who came to earth wrapped in flesh to show us what life is all about. We’ll never reach the younger generation by letting them find their own way. We must get involved in their lives and share our love for Him with them. We must let the fire of our devotion light their way.