One of our number has a congregation that likes the worship well and good enough, but, she continues...
There are 2 groups that hate each other's favorite music. If we put anything from the 60s up to today into the service, one group loves it and the other says, I am not coming to church if you keep choosing those happy clappy "camp" songs.
But If we select more classical music (Bach et al) and 18-19th century hymns, it is reversed and the other group feels we are not meeting their worship needs: "too boring/too dirge-y."
What's a pastor, music director and worship committee to do?
Our matriarchs seem to agree that it's important to reinforce the notion that no one owns a worship service. It's there for God, and while an individual's need to be fed is of course a consideration they make in choosing a church, one person's aesthetic sensibilities should not dictate what music is chosen. That's not much help to the people making these decisions, who have to try to accommodate everyone's musical tastes much as they do other fractious issues, such as politics, sexuality, and the origin of and correct recipe for Brunswick Stew.
Here are some of the things they had to say, though, and hopefully that will be a starting point for some discussion.
This is always a challenge. I believe, however, that it is more about the relationships than the music. Music has more emotional impact than most any part of worship. Therefore, my experience is that there needs to be some emotional investment in participating in either "old" or "new" music. We often assume that the connection must be a personal connection with that genre of music. I would suggest that if one truly has a connection with -- a love of and investment in -- another person, then we are able to value the music that is important to their spiritual nurture.
We are usually able to blend music successfully in our congregation. Certainly people have favorites, but I believe that because they know, love, and value each other, they want the other to be able to sing music that is important to them. The secret is to talk about what is important to us and why. If I know that "Amazing Grace" is significant and important for you, I am more patient about singing it, even if I can't stand it. I might even look at it through your eyes, your experience, and learn to appreciate something about it.
I teach the occasional class on Hymnody and find that it always has a positive effect on people's experience and engagement with the music we sing.
Clearly The Worship Wars are alive and well.
The thing is, though, that worship is not about meeting our own personal needs or taste requirements. Worship is for God, and here's the question to ask the two camps:
Would you be willing to give up your favorite music to bring new people into God's family? (Remember The Great Commission?)
Worship is not about us, our style preferences, our comfort. Yes, we want to be fed spiritually, but the congregation that believes that worship is "for them" is a dying congregation.
If these two groups of folks genuinely love and care for each other, they should be able to sing songs that are not their favorite if they know it helps others in the congregation connect to God and feel spiritually nurtured and uplifted. If they are unwilling to do that, I'd say the problem is much deeper than music.
That being said, sometimes the way "new" music is introduced and incorporated into worship can make a huge difference. Sometimes when people say they hate "that new stuff" it is because it is unfamiliar, not taught to them well, sung once and then not again for six months at which point it seems brand new again. On the other side, folks who think they hate "all those old hymns" sometimes come to have a greater appreciation for them if they know their history, something about the person who wrote the words or the tune, times in the history of the church when that particular hymn or anthem played a key role, etc.