Five-Minute Friday: Familiar

Today's five-minute writing prompt appears courtesy of Five Minute Friday.

Being the leader of the worship team at church is an "interesting" experience.   I suspect any leadership role has its ups and downs, and this particular role is no exception.

One of the classic "downs", however, is thinking about music selection.

When I get feedback about the songs I choose for us to sing together in church, it invariably reverts to the word "familiar" (though folks rarely use that word explicitly).

"Thanks for picking that hymn to sing today.   I love the old hymns.   I wish we'd sing more of them."

"Thanks for picking that new chorus.   I love hearing it on the radio and sing along with it all the time.   I wish we'd sing more of them."

Notice the common theme?

"I like to sing what's familiar to me."

There's nothing wrong with that, of course.   There's great comfort in singing songs that have personal meaning.   Where things get interesting (and where the infamous "worship wars" arise) is when people's differing views of familiarity clash.

A number of years ago, I visited the church where my wife grew up, and her family still attends.   They have "traditional" and "contemporary" worship services.   At the time, the folks who attend the "traditional" service were complaining about their worship director.    It really puzzled him, because he'd heard that they loved the old hymns, and so he was choosing lots of old hymns from the hymnal.   The problem was that he was picking hymns from the hymnal (which, like most hymnals, is HUGE) that the congregation didn't know well.   So the "old hymns" he was picking were just as unfamiliar to them as the "new choruses" were.

It wasn't about "traditional" vs. "contemporary"; it was about "stuff I know" vs. "stuff I don't".

Which leads to some questions for you to ponder.  What's the point of singing in church?   Are you only spiritually moved when you sing songs you know already?  Or, perhaps, is your music leader picking songs for a different reason?

For me .... well, my timer went off long ago, so we'll have to save that for another time ....


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