Jamie Harvill

When Worship Wasn’t Cool

I think of the days when hymn books lined the pews in our churches and were used in worship services every week. As a traditional ’80s minister of music, I would stand at the pulpit and say, “Please take your hymn books and turn to page number (fill in the blank) and sing verses one, two and five.” Remember?

I have always been a fan of guitar music, especially classic rock. I’d played my acoustic guitar in worship once in a while back in the day, but in church I was mostly accompanied by organ and piano. I dreamed of the day when my kind of music—rock and roll— would be accepted in the churches I served.

Since the days of Promise Keepers, and through the great worship experiences offered during those events, pastors began to desire “more of that” in their own churches, and slowly opened the flood gates for full bands to take their church stages. I saw this development before my own eyes.

In the days preceding all of this, worship wasn’t cool. I mean, for most churches, worship looked for the longest time like it had for two hundred years. This wasn’t a bad thing, since classical music had dominated church and sacred music literature, and people were reading music and passing on the wonderful, Bible-rich songs that were pervasive up to that point. Music literacy is a good thing and I hope over time we don’t lose it.

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