I was wondering what your thoughts are in church meetings having Hymn books, projector screen or handout sheets. What do you feel is best to use in worship?
This is a question that just about every Pastor and Music Minister should have asked if they are “worth their weight in salt”. It really shouldn’t be a controversial subject but anyone who has been in church for any length of time knows that it can certainly “raise the dander” on church folks.
Why would it do so? Well, other than provoking selfishness, it genuinely strikes at the heart of what it means to be engaged in worship. There are some who believe that you must be holding a hymnal to be spiritual. There are others who think that if you’re holding a hymnal you are stodgy. I find the entire discussion fascinating at best and moot at worst….
But the question is “what is best?” At Grace Life we do not have hymnals in our pews but rely entirely upon projector screens (we still use Power Point, believe it or not). We do use handouts on our Wednesday night service (which is in our Old Auditorium). With that being said, here are a few things to think about:
What do you mean by “best”? “Best” can mean any number of things:
*Eyes closed and head back
*Hands raised and tears flowing
*Dead pan expression
I’m not trying to be sarcastic. If you ask 25 pastors what “best” means when it comes to worship, you might get 25 different answers. To me, “best” means a congregation responding to the Gospel as it is sung with active affections toward Christ in a way that glorifies God and edifies the congregation regardless of how that may appear.
God has remained silent on the subject. A church has freedom in this area. Neither hymnals, nor handouts, nor projector screens are commanded in scripture. There are pluses and minuses with either (I will put handouts with hymnals). I will draw from Bob Kauflin at this point to give you the advantages of using hymnals and using projector screens.
* the congregation can sing in parts, which makes the sound more beautiful
* people who have never heard the song (and can read music) can sing it immediately
* centuries of enduring hymns are at your fingertips
* people can buy the hymnal (or music) and sing the songs at home
* words can be reflected on more readily as they don’t disappear as soon as you sing them
* singing in parts models the Scriptural principle of unity in diversity
* more freedom to respond physically while singing
* easier to add new songs to the repertoire
* people look up more naturally, making it easier to sing
* you don’t have to read music to participate
* people sing unison, so it’s easier to pick up the melody
* you’re following the Scriptural practice of passing on melodies orally
(Taken from Kauflin’s blog Worship Matters)
Obviously, the advantages of having screens was considered more important before I arrived at Grace Life. When I started leading music at my home church it was in a church that sang a lot of simple choruses from memory and a hymnal to supplement. I have led music in churches that used both. As long as a Pastor and Music Minister understand that it is not the hymnal or the screen that creates worship and they understand what biblical worship is, they should be safe to make the proper decision for their church.
Some additional thoughts….
A mature believer is easily edified. Someone who not only has truly been born-again but has developed a mature approach to have their affections easily active in corporate worship should need less and less visual aids (they will, of course, need them in learning a new song). However, visual aids are necessary on most all of a church’s repertoire for those who have not developed such discipline.
So keep in mind the needs of folks who might not be as disciplined so that whatever choice you make it will most readily assist those who need it.
Visual aids should serve the Church not the other way around. You don’t want your services stymied by the use of your visual aids. Your room may not be conducive to having projector screens. Your congregation may be distracted by holding hymnals or printouts. Use the visual aid that will most encourage engagement for your congregation. Beware of thinking you’ve got to make a change just because it’s the current thing “to do”.
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