Welcomed or not, the contemporary music-centered approach to worship that has been both dominant and effective in most large and megachurch worship services is being challenged. This challenge, however, does not come from traditionalists who are still demanding a return to the Hammond B3 and southern gospel. This challenge, which has been slowly growing over the past decade, is coming from the same age-group that once pioneered praise bands and raising hands: Teens and young adults are challenging the trends in worship.
Tracking the Trends in Worship
Fortunately, the shift does not seem to be as sudden or as dramatic as when the college graduates who grew up in the 1970s and ’80s entered into church leadership roles in the 1990s. That era was one in which two dramatically different approaches to worship, especially the style and role of music, came into direct conflict in the so-called worship wars.
There is strong anecdotal evidence that points to an increasing number of young adults who have grown up in evangelical churches being drawn toward trends in worship experiences that are more intimate, less polished and often more liturgical than the worship of their home churches.
In a recent survey taken in our required (for all students) worship class, the results seem to demonstrate the shift is already at the point where those leading worship need to at least make note of it. Admittedly, a sample of 30 students is too small to provide proof. But, since the class is made up of the general student population (as opposed to only those involved in worship leading), it does provide an opportunity to take the general pulse of where (at least our) college students are in regard to approaches to corporate worship. The average age in the class is about 20.