Whether you enjoy praising God with a Baptist hymnal in your hand as an organ plays in the background, or it’s the electric guitar and drums that stir you to worship, everyone seems to have an opinion about church music.
Kenny Lamm, senior consultant for worship and music with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), hopes to help end the “worship wars” and bickering that are hurting many of today’s churches. He contends any style of worship – contemporary, traditional or blended – can be prone to being ritualistic, divisive and performance based, rather than focused on glorifying God.
“What I’ve seen in the conflict of worship is usually a result of two words: ‘personal preference,’” said Lamm, who shared a report during the BSC’s Board of Directors meeting Jan. 29-30 at the Caraway Conference Center in Sophia. “Our culture has told us that we have to have it our way. What is dangerous is when we assume our preferences are the same as God’s preferences when it comes to worship.”
As a worship and music consultant, Lamm seeks to help churches get on track with biblical worship, “setting an environment that helps people encounter the transforming power of God.”
On March 9, the BSC’s worship and music team will sponsor a Worship Summit and Worship Leader Boot Camp at Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell. Future events will be held Aug. 24 in Charlotte and Oct. 26 in eastern N.C. More details will be available later.
The purpose of the summit, Lamm said, is to take a closer look at what the Bible says about worship and to engage in “healthy conversations” about corporate worship and practices. The summit also examines how the culture impacts worship, and helps define what is “timeless” and what is “temporary” in worship.
“What is participatory worship versus being a spectator of worship?” he asked. “What is religious-centered worship and man-centered worship? We need to lift up what Christ-centered worship looks like. The worship summit event that we’re offering this year is designed to help churches work through these critical issues.”
During the worship event, there also will be training for worship musicians and leaders at a Worship Leader Boot Camp. The camp focuses on equipping music leaders with the tools they need to create a culture of active participants seeking to connect with God in worship.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Lamm said, worship was pretty similar among Southern Baptist churches. Most congregations sang from the Baptist hymnal. “Today, things have changed drastically, and church leaders are struggling to determine what their church’s corporate worship should look like,” Lamm said. “In some churches what used to be meaningful worship, that engaged the people, now is turning into a lifeless ritual and the church is dying.”
The key, Lamm said, is not whether worship is traditional, contemporary or blended but that it is “unified.”