I am a twenty-something (in case you couldn’t tell).
I wear skinny pants (although they are steadily getting looser).
I listen to the kind of music that screams at me.
I play drums, and I play drums loud.
I like to watch shows on Netflix that are edgy: The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul.
I am young at heart, no matter how much I enjoy routine and stability in my life. I am young, but, when I look for a church to attend, I must admit, I am enthralled with the church of my grandparents, the old fashioned church.
The new praise and worship, “experience” mentality has its place. I am sure many people are happy and content with their “experience” their. What I fear, however, is that their “experience” lacks Biblical truth. In my experience, while it may be limited, I have discerned that the modern church lacks the foundational truth of the old ways of doing things in the church service.
For the last couple years, I served on staff as youth director for a small, country church. One of the things we did in service I especially enjoyed was the classic “meet-and-greet.” You might know it as the “grin-and-grab” or the like. This gave every member of the church an opportunity, from the oldest to the youngest member, to fellowship, to talk, and to check in on one another. I find myself rather shy in these types of situations, but I rather enjoyed seeing God’s people join together in joy to relish the time spent in the house set aside for God’s service.
These old practices that may seem dated, really would do the modern church some good in allowing the “spurring one another on to love and good deeds.”
The last twenty years, probably, provided the backdrop for the ever-dreaded “worship wars,” when old and new styles clash for a share in the time spent in worship. I hardly call this worshipful, however. You can do a quick Google search and find many articles and blogs focusing on the worship wars, so if you’re interested, take the time to do that.
The thing I hate most about these fights is that they discount the merit between the two styles: the “experience” of the new, the truth of the old. As much as I love solid songs like “10,000 Reasons,” “This is Amazing Grace,” and “The Creed (I Believe)” (my most beloved worship songs to utilize in leading worship), I grow tired of the focus on us and the “experience” culture of the new songs. Artists continue to write good songs, many of them are catchy, flashy, with a focus on experiencing God, and I have not a problem with that always, but I long to see songs turn to the olden songs, the songs of my youth and the church of my grand parents for fortitude and shoring up of doctrine.
I long to see the modern church and its songwriters to take cues from the old songs like “There is a Fountain.” I was talking with my fiancee about this the other night. We talked about how great these songs sounded and reminded us of the great love of the Father. This particular one goes like this: “There is a fountain filled with blood flowing from Emmanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.” Another of my favorites is “It is Well With My Soul.” It goes like this: “My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”
I adore the vivid imagery of these songs. I instantly begin tearing up at the lyrics of these two songs. Instantly, I remember the way my Savior bled for me, how He alone took the brunt of God’s wrath for me, and the way Jesus bled, it indeed had to have looked like a fountain flowing from His veins. These old songs speak to the doctrine that inspires worship, it leads me to experience God through the old doctrine, and the older I get, I experience God, not through emotional, high-energy songs filled with lyrics about me, no, I am brought and led to the throne room of God by the songs filled with the sound doctrines of justification, mercy, grace, justice, substitution, and grace. They are the complete package.
I am enamored by the songs of the old-fashioned church. It is full of truth and sound doctrine, both things our culture of emotion desperately needs. We must be reminded to not so quickly cast out the old in favor of the new, flashy songs, but to reminisce of the songs of old, to relish the goodness of God through these foundational anthems, and be brought to tears in worship because we are reminded of how God sent Jesus to take our place and eradicate our flesh – He paid the greatest price, a brutal one.
I love the old fashioned church and it’s longing to religiously meet on Wednesday and Sunday nights, its propensity to make me feel awkward in handshaking, its celebration of birthdays, its publicly sharing the prayer requests.
I hold onto these things not because of mere nostalgia, for it is fickle, but these are types of things the Church is to be about.