Nothing defines the American church more at this historical juncture than its music. When we are asked what kind of church we attend, most often we describe the congregation’s worship, and we describe it in the all-to-familiar terms, traditional, contemporary, or blended perhaps with a qualifier such as “leaning toward.” Not unlike the generational segregation that we discussed in an earlier post, worship in many churches is fully segregated, and many have accepted the notion that other options are not possible.
Yet when I talk with friends about musical preferences, they have wide-ranging notions, and they act on these choices as they listen to music in their daily lives. For instance, the dozens of students I work with each day are open to all genres of music, and I haven’t in many years encountered a student who wasn’t open to explore music from popular culture, choral music from previous centuries, and the sounds of organs and brass. Likewise, my baby boomer cohorts might regularly attend a Three Dog Night concert on Friday night and go to the symphony on Sunday afternoon – they are not willing to be boxed in by a single-genre musical diet in their daily lives. Why should we accept such a limited offering on Sunday?