I am still reading through Essential Church?, which I have posted on previously. In the book, the authors say that despite the attention that worship style gets, people do not tend to leave (or stay) based on music. If the authors are correct, many of our churches are focused on the wrong thing and wasting a great deal of their time arguing over something that is not going to help or hurt them in the end.
What do you think? Are the authors right? Would you leave your church if the style of music was not what you desired? How does worship style influence your decision to stay or go?
The role is to foster relationships, relationships between us and God and one another. Music is part of this but it’s role should not be over ephmasized.
This may have been true for me in middle or high school. For me now, musical style is way on down the list of important issues. But then, it’s probably my least favorite part of the whole church experience, so even if it’s my favorite style, it’s probably not going to sway my preference that much.
Your comment reflects what the research behind the book says. People tend to stay at a church or leave a church based upon a sense of belonging to the community. If a person feels like an important part of the group, he/she will stay and will almost always overlook personal preferences in things like music.
You have mentioned that you are not a big fan of the music part of church before. How come? I’m curious.
Hmm, well first one comment to go along with what Jeff says. I think I agree that music probably doesn’t often have much to do with people leaving the church. However, I feel like I most often hear discussion about style of music when people at church are talking about attracting new people to the church. Perhaps the real question isn’t “would you leave?” based on style of music, but “would you come?”
In regards to my distaste for worship music… I’ll hafta ponder at that a bit. I could stab at the answer, now but probably wouldn’t feel satisfied. I’ll… get back to you on that.
I would and have left a church b/c of music.
The things that will drive me away are:
1) The music is too loud — damagingly so
2) The music “style” develops a culture of worship for the song. That is to say, they feel emotions based on the song even if the song does not send a clear Christian message or have any intention of worship for Jesus. And so the congregation enjoys singing emotional songs but there is no direction towads Jesus.
example: Joy to the World (Jeremiah was a Bullfrog) or America the Beautiful
I don’t mean to say that Bach was wrong to make songs for a church tha have no lyrics. I don’t mind art for Jesus or using anything for worship. But it just does not sit right with me when we worship with lyrical songs that have no real direction towards God.
I have to admit that I have never been a part of a church where the music is dangerously loud. If it were the case, I would probably leave as well. I value my hearing.
I want to add that I too am not thrilled with “patriotic” songs done during worship services (or any other song that is not focused on worshipping God for who he is, what he has done, what he is doing, or what he is going to do). It seems like misplaced reverence to me. I personally do not go to church to pay honor to our country or anyone/anything other than God. I think I will post about this now that you have me thinking about it! 🙂
Ewww… yeah. There are few things that I find more repugnant in church than nationalistic songs. In my experience, having such songs always supports an underlying belief that America is God’s chosen country (like the Israelites back in the day), which leads to arrogant elitism. Bleh.
Then again in the case of nationalist songs in church, it’s more the theology of the music than the music itself that get’s me fired up. The style is irrelevant.
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First let me say that I live in the middle of nowhere. Churches here tend to be 25 to 120 members. And the churches with 120 are considered big churches. There are a couple of churches that have about 300 members but that is as big as they get here.
That being said, a lot of those same churches do not offer much in ‘programs’ to appeal to families. It is church on Sunday and prayer meeting on Wednesdays. Again, I am not complaining (although it took A LOT of getting used to coming from a mega-church) it’s just factual.
So, when we moved here and started ‘church shopping’ so to speak…. if the music did nothing to help our worship and the sermons were just so so, we never went back. If we visited a church where the music encouraged worship and the sermon was so so, we would visit again to see if the sermon was just an ‘off’ week. So, although my current church does not have the style of worship music we are used to, it does encourage worship and the sermons are consistantly good.
Music does REALLY speak to me. Sometimes the choice of the song will touch me more than the sermon will. But the same is not true for the rest of my family. My entire family likes hymns but sang in a Third Day kindda way. My current church usually sings hymns the old fashioned way with a praise song in the middle somewhere. The old fashioned hymns are harder for me to get into even though the words are the same. I am not sure why. I long for my worship to be the same regardless of the ‘style’ of the music.
I know that this is almost a month late, but I felt the need to comment. 🙂
Honestly? One of the main reasons I don’t go to the late service at Pine Grove is because of the music. This last time T.J. preached, I contemplated whether it was worth sitting through the hymns. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with hymns. I just find myself bored and distracted while I’m singing them. Then I feel bad because I should be worshiping and I’m just counting how many lines we have left.
I think that the music does have a big impact on who churches draw in. Element tends to have a younger crowd, partially because we have loud music and like to use distorted electric guitar and heavy drums, and partially because Aaron tends to appeal to younger people. I don’t think I’d leave a church because the music changed, but the music definitely draws me in.
Oh, and it’s not just hymns. I went to a night service at Grace Baptist and they were playing electric guitars and heavy drums and loud music, but it wasn’t that good. The songs were good, they just didn’t sound that good.
I relate a lot to music and I feel the need to be able to get into the music. I don’t want to waste my time thinking about how boring the song is or how the music isn’t very good when I should be worshipping God. That’s my fault that I let it be like that, but it makes it easier when I like the music.
Not to say that I’d go to a church with bad lessons because the music was good or that mediocre music would stop me from attending a church with really good messages. But I definitely take both into account.
I think that you are right. People may not leave a church that they are already attending because of the music, but I do think that it plays an important role in the decision of visitors as to whether or not they are going to return.