If you follow my blog on a regular basis you know how I was raised. Every Sunday morning when I was growing up we would start the day at First United Methodist Church of Arkadelphia in the third pew on the right hand side. Every Sunday my mother would sit between my sister and I so we wouldn’t bicker with each other. Every Sunday after the service was over I would hand an offering envelope with a drawing on it to our pastor. Every. Sunday.
I recently read this post that a man who had some very strong opinions about contemporary worship wrote. Did I mention it was extremely one-sided? It was something that I couldn’t believe that I was reading. Although, I can relate because of the very evident conflict between contemporary and traditional in my home church of Arkadelphia when we proposed the idea of a contemporary service. A few of the arguments were, “It’s too loud, too expensive, too much…” It gave me an extremely horrible view on the traditional service. I expected the tradition to stay in the service, not the people. It was a foreign concept to me, the expectations of a Christian dissipated when these arguments were going on. We would stand in the sanctuary and sing songs called, “Here I am Lord” and “We are the Church” and then bash a person for worshiping in a different way. Does this make sense?
I was thinking about God and how he showed up in the major prophet’s lives. Did he use a burning bush every time? Of course not. Different people needed different things to understand God. So when I was in 7th grade and discovered God through contemporary worship, I fell in love with the faith growing inside of me. I might have been dealing with some heavy stuff, but on Wednesday and Sunday nights, I knew that I could let go, sing freely, and lift my hands to my Savior, my God.
This week the Arkansas Conference Council on Youth Ministry is in Clarksville at University of the Ozarks having their Junior High and Senior High Assembly camps. I was one of those youth that was involved with every event and making it happen and I loved every part of it. The senior high camp has a theme for the week called “Old School: Remembering the excitement of your faith when it was new.” I was excited that I was going to be in town and be able to attend the worship services for this event. Not only was I able to see all of my old friends, but I also got the chance to remember the excitement of my faith when it was new.
When do I hear God the loudest? When I’m standing in a room with the house lights down, stage lights up, music so loud I can’t hear myself sing, and the freedom to lift my hands and praise God! I never felt like I was able to do that when I was in traditional worship. I felt like I would be “out of bounds” or “the weird person.” When I felt like I couldn’t be myself in worship, I knew that something was wrong.
I got what I like to call the “Hannah Montana Experience” I was raised traditional, but then able to experience the contemporary worship movement. I got the best of both worlds! I will always hold my hymnal close to my heart, but if I wasn’t given the opportunity to sit behind a shaky laptop stand in a metal folding chair, my faith wouldn’t be where it is today. If you’ve never been in a contemporary service or opened yourself up to experience similar, you have no room to talk about what I feel or don’t feel in worship. It’s not a “passive non-involved activity” that I participate in. It’s how I hear God. It’s how I reconnect with the one who gave me life. It’s where I get to communicate with God on a personal level and if that offends you, read the words that are in your hymnal. They say the same things, in a different language and tone with different concepts.
At the end of the day…. We all worship ONE GOD. I would really like to believe that’s all that matters.
In the next few posts that I write, I’m going to be talking about how came into the calling of ministry. I would like to say it was one big moment, but it was a whole bunch of little ones that I can’t wait to share with you in the future.