Why we sing how we sing what we sing
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to brag on Oaklawn church of God… specifically the older generation at Oaklawn. Someone asked a group of us pastor dudes, “What is worship (meaning music) like at your church? And why do you do it the way you do it?”
I replied that a little over 3 years ago, as we entered into conversation with Oaklawn about the possibility of coming to be the Lead Pastor, we had some very straight-forward discussions. The church said that the 5-year goals were to build a strong children ministry, to have a vibrant youth ministry, and to reach those young adults (age 18-35) who were missing from the church. I then told this group of pastors that I informed the church that this would not be easy, and at times not even fun; that we would experiment with methods while never changing the Message, but some of the things we would do, everyone would not like. I talked about change being difficult but necessary, and that within a couple of years Oaklawn would look very different than it did right then. When I said that if I came to Oaklawn, we would become “contemporary in style, casual in atmosphere, and outward-focused in every area of ministry,” I asked the congregation to bottom-line it for me: “What absolutely cannot change at Oaklawn?” And the answer was, “The name of the church; other than that, W.I.T. – Whatever-It-Takes - to reach the lost and become this church we envision.”
So, I told the group of pastors I was speaking with this week, “Because this is God’s vision for us, our praise & worship has taken on this specific vision – songs that bring glory to God and engage the worshiper, while at the same time a style that is contemporary and an atmosphere that is casual… which by the way, are key elements to church music being outward-focused.” I explained to the group that I knew this was difficult for many of our older generation, but I am extremely encouraged and motivated that this generation is willing to say, “I don’t like the music, but I do like that people are coming into relationships – healthy relationships – with God through Christ Jesus!”
I wasn’t just saying that. I am truly honored to pastor such a unique and diverse (and growing) congregation as Oaklawn church of God! And I am very proud of the older generation in our family that have said, “Yes!” to God’s vision even when it is one of the hardest things you’ve ever done! Kudos to you!