A New Era of Worship

While organs still intone “A Mighty Fortress” and congregations continue to sing just one more stanza of “Power in the Blood,” a new set of “standards” such as “He is Exalted” and “Shout to the Lord” — led by “worship teams” wielding guitars and electronic keyboards—have joined the ancient call to worship.

Contemporary Christian music is an interesting phenomenon. Few subjects have generated more conflicts than the kinds of music one should listen to or the kind of music best suited for church music.

Arguably the single biggest alteration in the life of the average Christian congregation within the last 30 years has been the sweeping change in the music that is played on during church service.

Where formal choirs  and vocal soloists along with organ and piano once held sway, a flood of guitars and “praise choruses” suddenly came rushing in during the 1980s. An irresistible, grassroots, pop-culture-driven force met the immovable object of tradition and sentiment, and the ensuing years saw no shortage of conflict and controversy as a result.

In telling this history, people often conflate the rise of “praise music” with the rise of “Jesus Rock” and its later avatar, “Contemporary Christian Music” (CCM).

While the Jesus People movement faded by the early 1980s, the impact of its musical innovations continued to reverberate throughout the Christian church. Hundreds musicians evolved into professional songwriters and “worship leaders” and created their own praise-and-worship publishing entities. Seminars and worship workshops crowded the landscape, and many churches across the continent replaced hymnbooks with overhead projectors and—by mid 1990s—big-screen video projectors.

A New Era of Worship

“It is clear that Protestant musical expression has irrevocably changed.”

“Worship Wars” have become a fact of life as traditionalists battle champions of the new music. But the existence of Christians who are constantly creating inspiring songs out of their convictions about God and Christ is both an amazing and unique thing  often resulting in separate worship services for the youth or the uneasy compromise of “blended worship.”

Once a well-meaning Christian leader said “Ahh, music is so overrated. We don’t need music in Church?  However, we need music and it’s important to offer worship and gratitude to God, not only through our thoughtful expressions and notes, but also through music. Consider this passage from Ephesians 5:15-21:

Do you notice how the Scriptures instruct us to worship? “With psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”

With that, here are some of the current most popular Christian songs. May these fill your heart and mind with glorious, awestruck thoughts of our God and our Savior Jesus Christ.

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