For whatever reason, the word “change” is one of the most dreaded words in the vocabulary of the average church. Speak it, and it strikes fear into the heart of the faithful churchgoer. For many congregations across the country and around the world, the specter of change may as well be the air raid siren sounding.
But not this congregation! To date, I have thrown a number of changes at this church – some permanent, some temporary – and y’all have handled them with grace and good will. And that is good, because a somewhat more significant change will be headed our way in the not-too-distant future.
The board of Gower Christian Church recently authorized the purchase of a license from Christian Copyright Licensing International, or CCLI for short. CCLI licenses the printing, display, and performance usage of most contemporary Christian songs written from about 1970 up through today. The reason for purchasing this license is that we intend to start slowly phasing more contemporary music into our weekly worship service.
Now, a word of comfort to traditionalists – have no fear, the hymnal will not be going anywhere. As long as you have a classically trained pianist in your pulpit, the hymnal will stay in the pews. It has long been my firm belief that those hymns that tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love will always have a place in Christian worship services.
But soon, songs that were written in 2012 will start being sung alongside the songs that were written in 1812. The world is an ever-changing place, with culture evolving from one generation to the next, and so too must the church adapt to serve the world. After all, as Jesus told His followers in the Great Commission, “go INTO the world” – don’t expect the world to come to you.
And so change will be coming soon – change that will embrace both old and new, contemporary and traditional, high church hymns and low church praise and worship. But if my experience so far with this congregation is any indicator, we have nothing to fear. Gower Christian Church will cheerfully embrace this next step, and together, we will meet this change head-on, continuing to stand as witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in northwest Missouri, just as we have since 1853.
Here’s to the future.