Hipper Worship Bands: Not the Answer

CNN religion blogs an interesting piece on why millennials are leaving church and what NOT to do about it.

Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates
– edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.

But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances….

Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. – precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.

6 Replies to “Hipper Worship Bands: Not the Answer”

  1. Very sensible. I would just add that it doesn't hurt to use modern technology If and Only If it actually offers something. For example, having a website that doesn't look like it was made in 1995 and is updated regularly with church events is probably a good idea.

  2. Having sung Chant at our school masses now for almost two years the administration is very concerned that everyone is not participating because we are not using the right kind of music, i.e. "praise and worship". As an educator and avid cultural observer it becomes more apparent that the educational system is no less advertising or indoctrination toward a political, financial, social agenda from the adults in power.

    The author speaks from a generation that has been manipulated through every aspect of their lives and the cracks are beginning to show that this kind of manipulation erodes the dignity of the person. They are responding to the true form of themselves as being made in the image of God and they are searching for TRUTH, the person.

  3. Older, less hip music has equally no appeal. Most important is quality music. And surveys across all religious groups say time and time again that drawing people into Sunday/regular worship is dependent on three things: quality music, good preaching, and a tone of welcome. Seekers know they have options where they can find God. Church people should know they're not competing with nothing. They're competing with outlets that care and can give quality experiences–and some of those experiences, alas, are totally non-religious.


  4. All the music in our parish sounds like commercial jingles. I have launched a one woman protest by not singing them and praying instead. Is this wrong? Am I being fractious? I don't complain. I just grew up singing beautiful hymns in harmony, and I so love polyphonic ancient music. It truly is otherworldly.

  5. Any time I hear one person write in broad terms about a large group of people – in this case, young people and what really attracts them to church – I react with "we need accurate data." What do young people as a whole really think? What churches and what styles of worship really are attracting people, and what ones are in decline? What is really going on sociologically? One editorial by one person is interesting, but we have to know whether it's just one person's wishful thinking or something more.__Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB

  6. The Episcopal Church in the United States did a study on revising their hymnal in 2011. Of the almost 13,000 responses (from laity to bishops) the highest majorities of those NOT wanting a revision of this traditional hymnal were 29 years of age and younger and 70 years of age and higher. Those in their 50’s and 60’s – especially clergy – were mostly in favor of creating a more “contemporary” hymnal. According to everything I read 20/30somethings are coming back to church – “liturgical” churches (Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran) that are keeping and/or re-discovering their musical traditions. As a full-time professional parish music director I keep my eye on these things. Everywhere I look drums and guitars are receding into memory. Whenever I hear of a new ensemble in a Catholic church it is almost always a chant schola. Everywhere I turn I read it and I witness it. You may dismiss it out of hand while holding on to your own views but take a step back and look at the bigger picture and you will see that this “one editorial by one person” is well-stated and fairly accurate.

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