Music, Traditions and Change

Yesterday I opened a discussion of traditions and music and told you about the changes we made in this area and why.  I told you how we approached the difficulty of resistance when we did so, and today I’d like to wrap up the discussion…church_clipart_white

Please understand that we didn’t make our changes over night or in a vacuum.  It all began with a concerted effort to grow our church spiritually not numerically.  I would imagine that if we just tried flipping a switch and went from totally traditional one week, and then totally contemporary the next, there wouldn’t have been anything but chaos as a result.  In addition, our music evolved slowly for a number of reasons such as a lack of people willing to participate; a general lack of talent available in a small congregation, but as time passed, these things changed  With each new success, more people wanted to be part of a winning team, you might say.

Music was not the only tradition that was either done away with or modified, but of course it was the most obvious.  I must mention here once again that when I speak of our traditions, I am referring only to the way we did things, not to the message of Scripture or to any Scriptural imperative. As time went on, something else started to change…

It used to be that baptisms were so infrequent that when there was one, nobody had any idea of what to do, and each time the wheel had to be reinvented… or so it seemed.  People might actually complain that church got out late that day! Baptisms became much more frequent, and pretty soon, everyone involved in the worship service knew exactly what to do:  Oh, there’s a baptism today, great!  Things go almost like clockwork because the results of the things that had been done, beginning with spiritual growth began to pay off in souls won for Jesus Christ.  To be sure, I’m not suggesting that improvements can’t still be made, that process never should stop, but a dramatic shift had taken place.

The time came when we had, instead of an empty auditorium, a need to go to two services, and the day may well come soon when we need either a third service or a new place to meet: God’s will be done!

The funny thing that comes to me in looking back is that I really don’t hear complaints much any more.  I can understand somebody being skeptical about changes at first, but when the harvest starts to come in, the skeptics are gone.  Oh, I’m sure that some day something else will change and it will take a time for a buy-in from certain quarters, but when you are in a place where God is working in your midst, TWWADI doesn’t seem to count for very much.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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4 Responses to Music, Traditions and Change

  1. Pieter Stok says:

    One thing we often forget about music is that a good selection keeps us in touch with the history of the church – the people of all ages. Thanks again Don.

  2. mike and brandy says:

    hey brother. just a note with a question many don’t ask today in regards to church growth and ‘numbers’:

    so, when the numbers started increasing with the changes, did anyone stop to ask the reverse question…

    why were people not coming out in big numbers before the changes and would those reasons be valid or acceptable reasons to ‘avoid’ or not attend services at a particular congregation?
    also, why would the bigger numbers and needs for multiple ‘services’ after the changes necessarily be seen as ‘God’s Will be done’?

    just asking and encouraging deeper thought than just ‘more people means more God’

    • Don Merritt says:

      Hi Mike! Two very good questions:

      First, and I’m only speaking of our experience here and not any one else’s, the increase in numbers for the most part has been in new Christians and not in people who have been Christians for a long time. As to valid reasons for not attending church, it is my opinion that for a Christian, there is no such thing. The changes that we made did two things ultimately, first in seeking spiritual growth for existing members of our congregation, we began to see people sharing their faith and inviting their friends who had not previously done so. Second, the changes that we made in our services enabled us to increase the percentage of new people, mostly non Christians who come back, and in due course to give their lives to Christ. Of course, given an opportunity to grow themselves, those “new” Christians began inviting their friends, and the process repeats itself. All along the way, you can see lives being changed as people grow in their relationship with the Lord.

      As to your second question, I can’t help but wonder at all that God has done! Please understand that numbers are not the end in and of themselves, but rather an indication of something much more important. Who cares how many services we have? Nobody, it’s just that we don’t have a big room as compared to many other congregations. What is important is that people are giving their lives to Jesus Christ, they are growing in their faith, and people who have never done so before are taking an active role in serving God in various ways and leaving their old lives in the past. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am inclined to give all credit and glory to God, rather than taking it for myself or anyone else. Yes sir, there is no question that God is working here; you can see it in the lives of the people!

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