Yesterday, my husband Bill shared our friend Mike Coleman’s Facebook post. Oh my word. I wanted to stand up and cheer. Here’s what he had to say:
“I fondly recall that during the Jesus People Movement, my favorite venue of worship was Melodyland in Southern California. It was edgy and revolutionary. A gathering of the long-haired counter-culture. The music was loud and worship was “different.” Over time, the former long-hairs have become “no hairs” and are echoing to the hipsters the kind of condemnation that they themselves received as hippies. Today’s young spiritual leaders are simply doing what the leaders of every previous generation have done… inviting their “tribe” and culture to a personal relationship and meaningful worship experience. “Dear Hipsters – please take your place in the Body of Christ”.!” – Mikey’s Brain Dribble (Mike Coleman)
I was excited to hear someone from that generation say this. To admit that once-upon-a-time they too had been ridiculed for their exuberant, loud, unusual worship. To reflect on how it felt to be opposed for enjoying music they connected with as they simultaneously worshiped Jesus. To remember that they were criticized for doing something different than the establishment. And to confess that this same generation now opposes exuberant, loud, unusual worship. Admitting they ridicule the music the current generation enjoys and connects with as they simultaneously worshiped Jesus.
Kudos Mikey. Kudos.
But – even better – he ended his dribblings with the invitation for Hipsters to take their place in the Body of Christ. That’s where the cheering started. I’m no Hipster, but I could not agree with him more.
And here’s why. I believe it’s crucial – NECESSARY – for new music to be written and sung.
I believe this because I believe it’s Abba’s plan. I believe that when He formed us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), He hardwired every human with specific gifts and talents. He placed a specific calling – a way to use the gifts and talents – on each person in order to glorify Him. The perfect example of this is the prophet Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 1:5, we see that God hardwired him in his mother’s womb to be a prophet and appointed Him to prophesy to the nations for His glory – before God formed him, God had a plan for him. And Jeremiah was not special or unique. God does this for every human. Acts 10:34 and Roman 2:11 tells us that God does not show favoritism or partiality. So, if Jeremiah got gifts and a plan, then we all got gifts and a plan.
So, Abba intentionally creates specific people to write music. People whose calling is to pen melodies and lyrics that point to Him. He hardwires people to melodically tell stories of the beauty of His unfailing love. His plan is for them to sing of His holiness and grace so the nations will know of His splendor and majesty. In every generation God gives musical creativity so that these people will connect that generation to Him. So that in that generation, they would have a peer who understand who they are, where they are coming from – someone who “gets” them. Someone in that generation that God will use as His voice to sing over them. Yes, other generations may connect with their music and lyrics as well. But God uses them as a voice for and to their generation.
The message never changes. It always points to God, exalts Jesus and welcomes Holy Spirit. It always extols His worth and adores Him. It’s always about Him. (I question “worship” music that is more about “me” than “Him”…..oh, but I digress….maybe another time in another blog) And it’s always written through His Spirit under His anointing. But the style varies from generation to generation. And, it can also vary from person to person within the same generation based upon their individual hardwiring – the way Abba specifically designed them to create music. The sound He gave them, the personal preferences He gave them and the influences He surrounded them with.
The sound every generation makes will be different and unique because Abba is creative. He is not into cookie-cutter molds. We are not produced on an assembly line. While we may have many similarities, we are not cut from a mold. We are individually hand-made by God with unique hardwiring and a specific plan for us.
And if we as the Body of Christ don’t give the composers of each generation an outlet for their God given ability – a place to do what they were created to do, how they were created to do it – and celebrate their giftedness by using the tools for worship that Abba is providing through them, they will use their talents outside the church. If they experience rejection through our ridicule and criticism, they will remain silent in our presence. If they are told their creations must sound like generations before, then they will stop creating for us, because they cannot create differently than how they were hardwired. If they are not welcomed in the church to explore and express their creativity, they will take their gift and use it where they are welcome. And I can assure you, the enemy WILL welcome them with arms wide open. The enemy WILL celebrate their gifts and affirm their talents. he will gladly allow them to use their gifts in his venues as he works to influence them. (and he won’t complain about their skinny jeans and lumberjack beards)
And that is true for any gifting from God.
But, interestingly enough, we don’t seem to say this about authors. It’s unusual to hear someone say they don’t want to read new books that testifies of God’s greatness because they’re committed to older books on the same subject; that these new writings don’t inspire like the old writings do. While we do compare the differences between writing styles and the changes of language usage from one generation to the next – we never reject the new and cling to the old. We find a place for both.
We seldom say this about artists either. It’s not common for someone to say they can’t admire new paintings or pieces of art that display His glory because the old masterpieces are the only ones worth viewing. We somehow manage to see the beauty in both.
When building new churches, we don’t continue to use the same blueprints over and over again. You can easily look at any church and determine what decade it was built in. Every time a new one is built – which is always for the purpose of glorifying and exalting God – we build it in the current style being designed by the current generation of architects. And we admire the architecture of every era.
As I think through the things that the church does – all of which is supposed to be all about God – the only thing we desperately cling to and violently resist is the style of worship. (and pews vs chairs…but again, I digress…)
Reading the Bible regarding worship, I find nothing about the requirements of the swing of 3/4 time with a country twang. Or the demands of orchestration for “high church” hymns. Or a squelching guitar with a driving beat. It just said praise Him with song. With singing and with instruments. The style is left up to us. He gave us the freedom to express our heart in worship to Him, the way He hardwired us to.
So, why are we trying to place limits, restrictions and requirements on musical worship?
Who are we to think we get to define this?
Why can’t we make room for every style? Every sound? Every voice?
Why are we so critical, ridiculing the simplicity of their music as we compare it to past composers?
Why can’t we move forward and support how the current generation is worshipping and the music they are writing as we also appreciate the melodies of the past?
And dare I say it…….. if we can’t do this, maybe it’s because we have a serious heart issue. Maybe it’s because we don’t know the God we are attempting to worship. Maybe it’s because we don’t really understand the God we profess to know.
If God hardwired them to make music, let’s welcome them to make music. Let’s support their efforts as they attempt to find their voice. Let’s celebrate them as God uses them to provide us with tools to worship Him. Let’s sing the songs He’s writing through them. Let’s allow them to do it the way they hear it and join them in admiring the magnificence of God.
And let’s not get stuck where we are, because a new sound is coming. Always. While God never changes – He’s always doing something new in us. (Isaiah 43:19)
So I’m with Mike: Hipsters, Millennials, Xers, Boomers, Gen Z, and every other generation and sub-culture Jesus-loving group – I welcome to you to take your place in the Body of Christ. I ask you to worship with us and teach us how to sing the song you are singing now.
Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise Him under the open skies;
Praise Him for his acts of power,
praise Him for His magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise Him with castanets and dance,
praise Him with banjo and flute;
Praise Him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise Him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
Psalm 150 (Msg)
Note: Thanks Mike Coleman for sharing your authentic thought. I loved your transparency and honesty.
Another Note: When I write, I always use lower case letters for the enemy’s name and the pronouns that refer to him. I can’t bring myself to dignify his existence with a capital letter.