I am the father of 3 millennials and one Gen Z. One leads music, another plays percussion, and two of them, well let’s just say they sing in the pews. As we have discussions in our home about music in church I find their views consistent with the latest research regarding churches that attract young people.
Here are two relevant quotes:
“When we asked young people how they would describe their church to a friend, only 12 percent talked about worship, and only 9 percent mentioned worship style. Similarly, when we asked, “What makes your church effective with young people?” only a quarter mentioned worship at all, and only 12 percent mentioned anything about music (that figure dropped to only 3 percent when we isolated the top third of churches most effective with young people).
“However, these statistics don’t mean that worship planning no longer matters. It may be that for young people, worship is a potential turnoff but not necessarily a turn-on. In other words, our worship style or elements of our service may have potential to repel young people or prevent youth engagement, but simply making our music better does not seem to ensure their involvement.”
For the last 30 years or more, we have been fighting about music styles. It’s time for a truce. Here are 5 perspectives to consider, from our family.
1. I want a church where heads do not roll if you play the drums and eyes do not roll if you play some hymns. My kids enjoy Hillsong and Hymns. Stop making one style holy and the other less than. People that love Jesus and the church love various styles. Calling people antiquated or anti-God for their music styles is not helpful.
2. Words and expressions matter. Think about the message you send to African American churchgoers when we say clapping is not reverent. Why are we are comfortable saying to a large majority of our black brothers and sisters they are outside orthodox worship?
3. The greatest turn off for my kids (and many of their friends) is not worship styles. Its people that fight about worship styles.
4. It’s probably not a good idea to tell Millennials that playing percussion is of the devil. Especially when you just met them (happened to us not too long ago). Having the music discussion is not the best way to connect.
5. Warm is the new cool (a phrase I borrowed from Growing Young). In a study about pastor’s kids, they found out that when parents are involved, kids tend to stay around more. Loving relationships, whether you have a traditional or contemporary service wins the day.
Let’s continue the discussion and look for ways we can bless each other instead of berating each other. Sing!
 Powell, Kara; Mulder, Jake; Griffin, Brad. Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church (Kindle Locations 2369-2371). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.