Does worship music need to be whiny soft rock?

I’m afraid I’m not uncomfortable enough with worship music. I don’t want to fumble the pass of the church to the next generation.

In my early ministry years I was a part of a church in the midst of a “worship war”.  One side was fired up because they believed that we should only sing from the printed hymnal in our pews while the other side was excited to sing choruses off of an overhead projector.  It was kinda nasty and petty at times when I look back on it.

Now as a senior leader in my church I have the ability to influence the musical worship in our ministry. I wonder if we’re headed for a similar culture clash as we pass off the leadership of our church to the next generation.  There are times that I listen to the “worship music” being played around the “modern evangelical church” and I wonder if we’re increasingly disconnected from culture. Why do we continue to define “worship music” so narrowly? Is it possible for us to move in a new direction to connect with the next generation of Christ followers? Why doesn’t “church music” sound anything like the music on the Billboard Top 100?

Acoustic_GuitarI have angst that my kids are going to listen to the sound of our church and react the same way that those dudes in that Juicy Fruit commercial did.  Are they going to look at our whiny soft rock worship the same way our generation looked at choir conducting musical ministry directors?

As a leader, I want to champion younger leaders taking risks musically to connect with the next generation. I know music is a powerful tool to communicate timeless truth of Jesus in a culturally appropriate package. I’d personally love another song that sounds a lot like U2 … but the importance of reaching the next generation is way more important than my personal preferences.

I’m proud of the risks that our musical worship team is taking in this season at Liquid.  Please pop in your head phones and listen to this set recently from one of our campuses. I don’t know if we’ve found the answer with some of the stuff they are trying here … but I love that they are asking the question.  It’s our responsibility to ask the question. Listen in … and leave a comment about what you think.

[Having trouble viewing the video above? Click here.]
Note: This is a house video & audio mix. 
Not really made for this viewing like this … I wished you could have been in the room.
The energy was off the charts.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. How can we stir musical worship innovation to help us reach the next generation? Who do you know that is trying something different with this goal in mind?


  1. I would actually love to see some thrash-metal worship. Its been a long time since I’ve found any. And never heard it in a service.

    I am thrilled to find our new worship leader has a very diverse background and skill level. in many areas of music that I tend to avoid (tho I have found we can still be good friends?)
    He is introducing a good variety of music, lots of new songs and thinking through some of these questions to reach a variety of generations… not just with the music he uses and arranges, but with the teams he uses. even introducing all ages to all ages of music.
    alas, still no thrash-metal. & only laughter at the request. 🙁

  2. At Ridge Church we have been having some discussions lately about direction of worship music in the church. One thing we have been experimenting with is more hip hop and EDM. Take a look at the charts and you’ll see A LOT of hip hop. It’s hard to use hip hop as what we think of as worship music, but if it stirs your affections for Lord, it’s worship. Hip hop can do that. This past Sunday we did Shadows by David Crowder and including a guy doing Lecrae’s rap part. It was a huge hit.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.