What Worship Style Attracts the Millennials?

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Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Really asking what music style attracts millennials, not what worship style, since preaching, prayer, giving, singing, etc. are all part of the worship practice.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jim's picture

  • Authenticity
  • Integrity
  • Transparency
  • Proportionality
  • Participative
  • Multigenerational
  • Multicultural 

Worship.

Explained:

  • Authenticity: is it real? Is it real to the vast majority of the worshippers? Is it non-hypocritical? Is this a place where I don't need to wear a mask and where others don't as well. I would give fundamentalism (as a whole) a C minus here. Test: (whether you see the Noah movie or not (and I have not and do not intend to!... It's just a test). In SS this week share that you saw the Noah movie and see how people react. It's telling in our circles. Test # 2:  (just a test folk). Tell someone in your church that you enjoy an occasional beer. Test # 3: Really open up about a struggle in life. Ok masks back on ... it's safe again! 
  • Integrity: Is this a place where the leaders have integrated truth into all of there lives (home life, financial life, spiritual life). I would give my church an A+ here ... fundamentalism as a whole a D
  • Transparency: D for most of fundamentalism. Obfuscation in accounting. ECFA anyone?  The "E" stands for Evangelical and fundy's aren't. 
  • Proportionality: By this I mean two things:
    • Is there a balance between: home & family?; time at church?; time at work? Look at your church / school calendars. Ask yourself ... is there time for anyone to really breath and decompress?
    • Is doctrinal emphasis appropriate for the emphasis in the church? I mean if the Trinity is mentioned occasionally and tithing frequently ... something is amiss. I would give fundamentalism a D here. Often time the minor things are the major things
    • Also .. can I think for myself? Can I disagree with the Pastor while agreeing with the church's doctrinal position and still be OK in the church. If the Pastor says the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 are angels and I disagree and our church is silent ... am I a heretic? (I could think of scores of examples here!)
  • Participative. By this I mean, is this a place where I can serve and use my gifts. Or is it just a select minority. Is there a glass door to elders-ship where a 20-something can be hired and on the Pastoral staff, but lay guys who are qualified are on the sidelines. I would give fundamentalism a D here 
  • Multigenerational: I can't speak for all, but for me I want to be in a multigenerational church: babies, kids, teens, college, young adult, all the way up to the aged. I would give my own church an A+ here as we have babies to a woman who is 104
  • Multicultural: Fundamentalism struggles with this. It's tough because if your church is in the suburbs and the suburbs are white ... Perhaps all evangelical / fundamentalist churches struggle with this. I would give my church a B+ here. We have Indians, blacks, asians (the other Asians) and Hispanic. 

Now about music. (from a non-musician who is basically tone-deaf):

  • Is it singable?
  • Is it flexible? (I mean can we try some new things? and use virtually any instrument invented by man except a kazoo)
  • Does it convey rich doctrinal truth?
  • Is is all about performance? In my view there is little difference between the front bands of seeker churches and the choirs. I want to participate (as poorly as my signing is) and not listen all the time. If it's all about the choir  or the band ... I'm less interested
Mark_Smith's picture

Judging by the average grade of D you gave you think the average fundamentalist church is full of liars, leaders hungry for money, everyone faking it, lazy and un-involved, closed off, old, and white only?

Jim's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Judging by the average grade of D you gave you think the average fundamentalist church is full of liars, leaders hungry for money, everyone faking it, lazy and un-involved, closed off, old, and white only?

Based upon your attempt to implicate me, I likely would prefer not to worship with you. 

Don Johnson's picture

A friend of mine linked to this article on Facebook. I reacted with this comment:

The analysis may be correct, but if you follow the philosophy of catering to wants, you end up with a pretty anemic church.

My impression of Thom Rainer is that he is big on "find out what they want and give it to them." That's really not a biblical philosophy of ministry, no matter how successful it might be or how much you couch it in language like "authentic, transparent, blah, blah, blah". A biblical philosophy of ministry calls people to repent of their selfish ways and submit to the Lord. A ministry catering to wants indulges selfishness, even if the selfishness is expressed in terms like "deep theology" and "theologically rich", etc. Every one of those terms are invested with the meaning of "what appeals to me" rather than with "I simply want to follow the Bible and live for God."

 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jim's picture

So it is selfish to long to worship in a church where people are authentic? Where leaders have integrity? Where I can participate (use the gifts God the Holy Spirit has given to me)? Et Cetera?

Well I guess I am selfish then! 

Mark_Smith's picture

Nice dodge. Seriously, you gave your church great scores, but then said the average fundamental church was bad. I just wanted you to think about that rather than lash out at me.

Also, with one post questioning you, you have concluded you don't want to worship with me?

 

Wow. That kinda hurts, brother.

Jim's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Nice dodge. Seriously, you gave your church great scores, but then said the average fundamental church was bad. I just wanted you to think about that rather than lash out at me.

I appreciate your commendation ("nice dodge"). I really didn't have to work that hard at it either. 

Fundamentalists (even me) can learn from loving critics. 

You did a nice dodge too ... for ignoring the salient points of my post. Roger Dodger! (And it's not just one post ...  rather a series of them) 

Mark_Smith's picture

Wow. And you are a moderator? And a former pastor?

Jim's picture

Men in my church busy one day moving (somebody). (I wasn't there so I don't know those details). The following details are true and known to me.

After the heavy lifting and after everyone but two single men were left. Man A (as I recollect the man people were helping) offers Man B a cold beer. 

Man B informs his B-I-L that Man A has beer in the fridge. B-I-L = chairman of the deacons. 

Chairman of Deacons has on agenda at next deacons mtg. 

Big stink.

Man A leaves church

Oh ...by the way ... Man B is divorced. (But at least he doesn't drink beer!)

Real story  

[beer story relates to my authentic comment in an earlier post in this thread]

Jay's picture

Jim, let me encourage you to ignore Mark.  

As for worship - I think that many in fundamentalism look at the music style as what people see as necessary for worship, but I'm not sure that's actually the case.  We use some modern music in our services, but it seems like the people that are coming to our church are coming because they're hungry for relationships with other believers and for God.  The music makes it more palatable to some (and drives away others), but the qualities that Jim outlined - especially integrity and transparency - are what seems to keep people coming back to worship with us.

Just my view.  Hope it's helpful.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Mark_Smith's picture

Why ignore me? What have I posted in the last year that is so wrong as to make me a pariah? 

Obviously there is something here since Jim says my posting history would cause him to not worship with me...now Jay says to ignore me.

Jim's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Judging by the average grade of D you gave you think the average fundamentalist church is full of liars, leaders hungry for money, everyone faking it, lazy and un-involved, closed off, old, and white only?

Ask yourself this:

  • Did I give the average fundamental church a D? 
  • Did I say the average fundamental church is "full of liars, leaders hungry for money, everyone faking it, lazy and un-involved, closed off, old, and white only?"

I understand you have a PhD in Physics (as an aside ... my favorite and hardest class in H.S.). This tells me you must be very smart. But the way you projected falsehood on me tells me either you aren't that smart or you have an agenda. 

Jim Welch's picture

Don,

I know that believer's can be selfish; but wanting to be part of a fellowship of believers that places a high priority on teaching and preaching (being feed), being real, and living godly lives is the thirst of every believer's heart.  

Mark_Smith's picture

You graded fundamentalism (ie the average fundamentalist church) this way:

Authenticity: C-, Integrity: D, Transparency: D, Proportionality: D, Participative: D, you didn't grade mulitcultural and multigenerational for fundamentalism.

In defining authenticity you cite beer drinking being taboo and hiding real life problems...that goes to my saying that you think fundys are faking it. In defining integrity you say the home lives of people in fundamentalist churches don't match with what they claim. That is called lying and faking it in my book. In defining transparency you mention open accounting and the ECFA, then give fundamentalism a D. So you basically think fundy churches are covering something up...at BEST they are hiding. So, you suspect a certain level of theft of some type going on. This continues with proportionality. You mention preaching more on tithing than the Trinity...then indict fundamentalism with a D. Finally, you hit on participation. That is a D as well, so fundamentalists are lazy.

Those are low scores my friend. So, you obviously have a low opinion of the average fundamental church. How is that a stretch to arrive at? I mean, you claim that me concluding that makes me either "not smart" or having an "agenda".

 

Jim's picture

  • I expressed sincerely what is important to me (above). I stand by those comments without retraction.
  • I'm happy at my church (and as you noted I gave my own church good grades)
  • My church is a self-identified fundamentalist church
  • I no longer self-identify as a fundamentalist because I view the term has lost precise meaning and does not effectively communicate my own belief system (this is old news)
  • My church is happy with me 
  • My church is not perfect nor am I
  • I sometimes offer suggestions to my church's leadership and they seem to not mind
  • I am big on financial transparency (probably because of: having a degree in finance ... working for a financial institution ... having served as a treasurer for a church ... having served as a treasurer for a non-profit ... having served as a treasurer for a state association of churches). I've seen enough in our circles (eg the very well documented closure and financial obfuscation of Evangelical Baptist Missions to just cite one example) to know we could do better. 
  • I don't really wish to cross swords with anyone (read Mark Smith) ... so disengaging
Mark_Smith's picture

From the response of Jim and Jay it is obvious that I have offended people here at Shaper Iron to the point where Jim says he wouldn't worship with me and Jay chimed in to ignore whatever I say and he has said that more than once and I have never known why. My intent at S/I was to learn and to have discussions.Obviously I failed. For that I genuinely apologize and I move on. I will no longer post here at S/I.

Don Johnson's picture

I am commenting on the general thrust of Thom Rainer's philosophy. It seems to me (my perception, my opinion) that he advocates identifying the wants of the market and catering to the wants. That is not a biblical model of church ministry, in my opinion.

As to the desires of Christians for "being authentic", "being real", etc. ... well, that's a very subjective method of evaluation. Who gets to decide what is "real" or "authentic"? Usually the person doing the seeking, evaluating. So it ends up to be very much "what seems good to me" (reminds me of the closing chapters of Judges, doing what is right in their own eyes). We'd be better off avoiding the buzz words, looking for churches that are faithful to the Bible, and a place to serve God, rather than to meet some kind of need I supposedly have. I need to serve God, not to feel good.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

B Toothman's picture

Maybe there is a history behind the previous exchanges, but Jim I am not sure where you are coming from.  I am glad you love your church, but why are you so quick to judge all other fundamental churches.  And then you get upset when you are called on it.  If you have a problem with certain fundamental churches than deal with them specifically and do not broad stroke all the others.  You posted the grades, not Mark.  I do not know any of you personally, but if you cannon ball into the pool, do not be surprised if someone splashes back.   

Jim Welch's picture

Don,

I have found that Rainer's gift is one of analyzing the current church (used in broad terms) situation.  His book, Surprising Insights of the Unchurched and How to Reach Them affirms what I believe every Bible believing pastor ought to do.

In this article on Millenials, Rainer is not advocating a worship style, Rainer is making observations.  In fact, his conclusion about the worship style preferred by Millenials is rather surprising.  NO PREFERENCE!  Hmmm.  Let that sink in for just a moment.  

I would encourage everyone on SI t read Rainer.  He is a godly man who makes good observations. 

Don Johnson's picture

I've read some of Rainer and have his book, Surprising Insights. I think he relies too much on humanistic methodology and is church-growth oriented. That's just an opinion, but it is not formed without having read him and considered what he has to say.

Personally, while I think we should consider feedback from people to some extent, I think it is far more important to get our marching orders from the Bible, pursue sinners with the gospel, and build churches full of regenerated members who want to serve God. I'm really not interested in whether that's popular or not.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Ron Bean's picture

As a 66 year old elder-elder in a church full of millenials, I appreciate this. Content over style is a phrase often repeated. A service will often include “In Christ Alone” as well as “How Sweet and Awesome is the Place”. The Acts 29 people who come think we’re conservative while the conservative folks think we’re very contemporary. Piano and guitars, a violin, and maybe an occasional djembe but you can hear the singing over the instruments. The preaching is good, sound Biblical exposition and everyone understands what we’re doing. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

josh p's picture

Ron, How Sweet and Awesome is the Place is one of the all time great hymns and I never hear it anymore. It isn't in our churches hymn book. In Christ Alone is great to.

Ron Bean's picture

josh p wrote:

Ron, How Sweet and Awesome is the Place is one of the all time great hymns and I never hear it anymore. It isn't in our churches hymn book. In Christ Alone is great to.

I've always loved great hymnody. I knew of this hymn for years but was never in a church that sang it regularly until recently. It was millenials who re-discovered it.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

josh p's picture

I found a youtube video recently of the song being sang at a local Presbyterian church. The only time I have heard it in church was during our recent attendance at a PCA church.
 

Jay's picture

Why ignore me? What have I posted in the last year that is so wrong as to make me a pariah?  Obviously there is something here since Jim says my posting history would cause him to not worship with me...now Jay says to ignore me.

From the response of Jim and Jay it is obvious that I have offended people here at Shaper Iron to the point where Jim says he wouldn't worship with me and Jay chimed in to ignore whatever I say and he has said that more than once and I have never known why. My intent at S/I was to learn and to have discussions.Obviously I failed. For that I genuinely apologize and I move on. I will no longer post here at S/I.

Mark,

I encouraged Jim to ignore you because of the way you have conducted yourself on the SI forums in the past, but I appreciate and accept your apology.  I also encouraged Jim not to get into it with you because of the teachings in Proverbs 17:14, Proverbs 20:3, and Galatians 5:25-26.  I'm not a perfect example of godly behavior myself in this area (you can check my own posting history if you want for proof Smile ), but I have been trying to follow those principles instead of being a quarrelsome man, which I can be by nature.

I'm not going to agitate for you to be thrown off of SI or to quit.  I'm just a member of the site, so I have no power to do anything about you or what you say or do.  You have the right to get online and say whatever you want, as long as the moderators find that your conduct is not a violation of the CP or DS.  But I do (or maybe I should say I did) skip your posts because I just didn't find them helpful.  I hope that changes in the future.

I also hope that you take this in the right way - I'm trying to approach you as an older man and fellow brother in the Lord (I Timothy 5:1).  I'm not out to get you or to shame you - just to explain where I was coming from and (more importantly) why; I regret that it took me so long to get back to you on this, but time did not allow me to do so any earlier.  If you have more questions, you should probably PM me so we don't clog up the thread.

Your brother in Christ and fellow servant,

Jay

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Ron Bean's picture

As I've said before, my wife and I are in a church full of millenials. Before we joined (we're strong believers in that meaningful, sometimes messy relationship called membership), I wanted to find out the "why" behind what they were doing. I am well aware of the temptation of some to label anything outside of traditional worship as seeker sensitive or something similar. I'll admit that we continually remind ourselves that the people who attend our church need to be able to understand what we're saying and doing. We also understand that we have people attending from various cultures and religious backgrounds. (One Sunday we had a brewer, a barista, and a BJU board member----there's a joke there somewhere...). We have people who were raised on the campus of Bob Jones and people who were raised on the streets. We have classical musicians, people who like country music, and some whose musical taste is more eclectic than mine. Knowing the variety that exists and the transient nature of life in our area, our determiner for what we do is not the culture that we are in but the knowledgeable worship of God. We explain why and what we pray in corporate worship, why and what we sing, and that "God wrote a Book!' and that that book is our guideline. They sing joyfully and with understanding. The new music we sing is not repetitive or shallow and the old music we sing is understandable by those who haven't grown up in church. If you ask our people why they're there you'll hear many reasons. Most come for the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. Some because they had grown tired of preaching that was shallow and full of stories and the same few subjects. Some because they love hearing what the Bible says in a manner they can grasp. Some because they appreciate the emphasis on meaningful, spiritual relationships with other Christians. Nobody is there for the music.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

mmartin's picture

Mark, please don't leave SI.  I appreciate your thoughts and most often I agree with them.

I also enjoy reading Jim's posts as well.  I like his humour and perspective.  That said, B Toothman's comment above is correct.

Jay, not sure why you are commenting towards Mark.  I didn't think he did anything wrong.  I've seen enough other exchanges on SI that were far worse.  If there is anything I've learned on SI on these forums is that if you say something on SI you need to be able to back it up.  Comments by anyone are routinely nit-picked, hyper-analyzed, and extrapolated in directions the original author had no thought of whatsoever.

Yes, Mark may have some strong opinions, but I'm OK with that.  I don't see him doing anything wrong.

What he did was just par for the SI course.

Jay's picture

Jay, not sure why you are commenting towards Mark.  I didn't think he did anything wrong.  I've seen enough other exchanges on SI that were far worse.

He asked a question of me, and then asked publicly why I felt the way I do.  I answered his question publicly, as the situation required.  I'm not going to deal with this issue publicly anymore because I'm hijacking the thread and wasting time.  Mark has PM'd me, and I'll reply to him privately when I have time.

There's nothing to see here...move along.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells