Archives for December 2011

What I Miss About My Evangelical Days: Pt. 2

I’ve been writing about the things I miss from my evangelical days. I wrote here about my experience of christian books/bookstores. This is the next post in that series.

One of the things I really miss about my evangelical days is the worship. I miss having worship (particularly music) that moves me and worship songs that I can actually sing.

I come from a tradition that did worship music in a way that was emotionally meaningful to me. It was stylistically accessible to someone who loves folk and pop music (and even some rock occasionally). I could sing at full volume and sing harmony by ear and rarely had to worry that there was going to be some weird flat or sharp that would mess up the melody line. (I can’t read music so that stuff sneaks out like a freaking ninja and trips me up!)

In the church I work at the music is high church. It’s all hymns and organ. It’s anthems sung in German and Latin. It’s featured soloists and classical musicians. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that, but it doesn’t move me. I can’t belt out a hymn when it’s accompanied by an organ. To their credit, the congregation does sing with gusto, but it’s not the same.

And there are no hands raised, no dancing, no closed eyes and raised faces. I miss that. I hear people complain about repetitive worship songs, but the beauty of those songs is that you can learn them quickly and not need lyrics to keep singing. It allows you to get lost in the music and to enter into worship.

I know that some folks think that worship music is emotional manipulation, and it certainly can be, but it can also be used to tap into emotion in a healthy way and to reach places that wouldn’t be able to be reached without the music.

I also miss being able to sing worship music and have it reflect what I believe. Now I listen to worship songs and I just can’t do it. Either it only refers to God as a man, or it’s just about Jesus and me and lacks any social component, or it’s about how life is nothing and someday we’ll all just go to heaven and be happy.

These days I sing along with Mumford & Sons, but I want more music like this. I want to be in a community of people who aren’t afraid of a good folk or pop song. I want high quality music that sounds like something I would listen to throughout the week, not just in church. I want to be able to raise my hands and dance. I want to close my eyes and sing my heart out. I want guitars and drums.

I want protest songs updated. I want Jesus mixed with justice. I want expansive language about God. I don’t want to sing about heaven and deny life on earth.

And it’s not just about the music, but about the community. About worship as a way to recharge from the work that we’re doing together. Music as a way to bring people together and get them energized.

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