Hymns Vs Choruses – Finding the Right Balance in Church Worship Music
For three years while I was a worship pastor almost every week someone from the congregation would bring up the issue of Hymn’s vs. Choruses. Some members wanted more hymns, some wanted more choruses, some wanted hymns sung like choruses and some wanted less hymns and less “old” chorus songs so that we could do more “new” stuff. It didn’t seem like it was possible to make anyone happy.
In fact, it was difficult to make anyone happy. I would try to adjust the mix of the music and try tried to educate members of my congregation. It just didn’t seem to matter… That was until I figured out that the issue wasn’t really about hymns or choruses (at least for most people). The debate about these two styles of music was simply a way of voicing other thoughts and issues that were weighing on people’s hearts. I came to realize that in almost every case, when people voiced their dissent about hymns or choruses they had another issue that needed to be addressed. Here were the five most common issues that I found…
1. Congregation members wanted to feel that they were valued and that the things that mattered to them mattered to the leadership of the church. They wanted to be heard and they wanted to feel that their opinion, likes, dislikes and feelings were important to someone else. Many of the older members of the congregation didn’t want to feel forgotten while younger members wanted to feel that they had some say in the way that the church worked too.
2. There is an incredible amount of selfishness in the Church. Many church members are looking for a church that will “meet their needs” above all else. This tends to produce a consumeristic mentality that leads individuals to a place of evaluation instead of participation. Often the framework of the hymns vs. choruses debate needs to be reframed so that members realize that it is not “all about me” but instead it is “all about Him”.
3. The debate over the style of music for a church is often more about change and change process than it is about music. Change is painful and almost nobody likes it. Sometimes as church leadership, we forget that most individuals struggle with change, especially if it is rapid. Congregation members want to feel comfortable when they come to church and change can make things comfortable. Often if the issue of hymns vs. choruses is raised as a tangible example of resistance or feelings of uneasiness with change.
4. Although there will always be a few people that love to complain about everything, it is important to remember to give people the benefit of the doubt when they raise concerns about hymns vs. choruses. Often, when people advocate for more of one or other style of music they are genuinely worried about the worship services being relevant and ministering to a specific audience. Amazingly, two people who sit next to each other in the pews can view the target audience of the church as two completely different groups of individuals. A leadership who casts vision well and has a clearly defined target in mind can really help to alleviate this problem. Many individuals who may have a preference for Hymns or choruses are willing to put aside their personal likes and dislikes in order to better minister to a different generation. This is one of the things that makes the body of Christ strong.
5. Sometimes it is not about the music at all but instead is about the theology. It is tough sometimes to tell if this is the real issue for someone or just a way for them to reinforce their point. Either way, both hymns and choruses should be evaluated carefully to ensure that they reflect sound doctrine and fit with the teachings of God’s word. Churches that choose to do less hymns will often need to work harder to ensure that their music is not only doctrinally sound but is also theologically rich.
Leading worship can be a hard job. However, understanding where people are coming from when they bring up this issue can be even harder. These are five things that I noticed when dealing with the issue of hymns vs. choruses at my Church. Perhaps you will see them at your church as well.
Jeff McRitchie is the director of marketing for www.MyBinding.com and lives in Hillsboro, Oregon. Before joining the team at MyBinding.com he was an associate pastor in charge of worship for three years. He writes extensively on topics related to Binding Machines, Binding Supplies, Report Covers, Binders, Index Tabs, Laminators, Laminating Pouches, Roll Film, Shredders, and Paper Handling Equipment.