I first started getting involved in church worship groups in the late eighties in the early years of my teens. Back then we learnt new songs in a very different way. Every month or so our group would get together with a music edition of Mission Praise and we’d try out a few songs we’d not done before. Mission Praise was the most up-to-date resource we had although it had been published in 1982, so you couldn’t exactly call it cutting edge. Our keyboard player, who had some musical talent, would play a song through and then we’d try and fit the words to it. Sometimes we’d find a song we thought could work, but often we’d give up as we couldn’t get a good feel for what the song should be like.
Most years, church members would return from Spring Harvest with tales of amazing new songs, but as they hadn’t bought the music book, it wasn’t much help to us! In those days our worship at church evolved very slowly, with very little change from one year to the next.
Fast forward to 2012 and things are very different. With the explosion of the internet, rather than struggling to find great new songs to sing, we are overwhelmed with choices. New songs can go viral in a matter of days through YouTube and iTunes. You can discover a song in the middle of the week, watch it repeatedly on YouTube, download the chords, email it out to the worship band and be proficient at playing it by Sunday’s service.
We are truly living in a golden age of Christian worship music. Not only are we seeing incredibly powerful and Spirit filled songs being produced month after month, but we also have access to quality teaching and resources. We can learn from those who devote their lives to leading worship by following them online via social media and worship websites. We can gain a better understanding of how to make the most of our times of worship and how to get the best out of the musicians and facilities we have. Song writers can put their own songs online and allow others to critique and help refine them.
God is giving us incredible opportunities to go deeper with him at this moment in time. New media via the internet can be used to powerfully bless our worship, but when things get too easy we need to avoid the temptation to take them for granted and become consumers of worship, learning a new song one week and tossing it away the next in favour of something new. As long as take what we have been given and turn it back to God, and not just entertain ourselves through it, then God will continue to use it to bless us.