Worship Music And Knowing Your Audience

The first time I ventured out of a Roman Catholic church was when I decided to go to a large baptist church right outside of my house.  I remember that the high school age kids had their own worship service aside from the adults.  There were probably 100 kids in the service. I’ll never forget what happened when the pastor took the stage and said, “Let’s begin with prayer.” I, being a Catholic, knew that when you prayed you stood. So, when the pastor invited us to pray I stood up and bowed my head. It took me a second to realize that I, in fact, was the only person standing. Everyone else had their head bowed and eyes closed. I don’t think they saw me, thank God!

I was reminded of this misstep in worship this week during the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Detroit. It seems to me that most of the kids don’t understand contemporary worship because their churches don’t really do it. So, it becomes a semi awkward rock concert.

There was this point during some of the singing that one of the leaders was prompting the kids to just sing praises to Jesus.  She began impromptu singing. I recognized this from my days as an Evangelical.  I remember being led in this during my time in San Diego. Everyone would just start singing a song that welled up in their hearts. I would bet that most of the kids have never experienced this before. So, when she was prompting them, no one did anything.

I don’t want to judge the merits of doing worship that way. I have obviously cast my lot elsewhere.  I do think that it was out of place and made me feel a little awkward. I wonder if there is a way for the music leaders at the gathering to better understand their audience?

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