Christianity Today readers about their worship preferences. (This was a test survey; more reliable results will be available later.) Asked which kind of worship they valued most, respondents rated "preaching- centered worship" the highest (52 percent), followed by praise-centered worship (17 percent), liturgical worship (16 percent), and creative, dramatic, contemporary worship (9 percent).
But while CT readers strongly preferred preaching-centered worship (which can be very head-oriented) over praise-centered worship, they even more strongly said that music helped them "connect with God at the level of the heart, not just the head" (69 percent). Seventeen percent said, "Music helps me leave my worldly cares behind and focus on the things of God"; 12 percent checked, "Music helps me feel at one with the rest of the worshiping congregation." A mere 2 percent said music means little to them in their worship experience.
Worship music must mean a lot to the CT staff. About half the editorial staff is involved in leading music in local congregations. (Several of the rest have been told it would be better if they just lip-synched the hymns.)
Staff members play in worship bands (Lara Badalamenti on keyboard; John Kennedy on trumpet). Richard Kauffman and Carol Thiessen lead congregational singing. (Carol used to lead her congregation's orchestra before the number of instrumentalists dwindled. She also built a harpsichord for a church she used to attend.) Tim Morgan used to sing in a church choir (that's where he met his wife), but more recently he has supported her in her professional work as a church music director. I play the organ and direct the choir at my rather traditional church (you can hear not only classic hymns, but the occasional Gregorian chant there). And, oh yes, John Kennedy's son Josh (who is working this summer in CT's mailroom) writes and performs his own Christian rap songs at church. There is a lot of variety in our editorial staff's worship music.
In this issue, Michael Hamilton writes about the social dynamics of musical variety and how the taste of the baby boom has triumphed (see p. 28). Musical styles (whether sacred or secular), Hamilton notes, to day serve as statements of identity and values, and "as a result, music has become a divisive and fractionalizing force, Balkanizing Western culture into an ever-expanding array of subcultures." What has happened in church happened already in society. Can the church stand a variety of musical styles? Yes. Can the church stand Balkanization? Good Lord, deliver us!
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