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  • Hymnals?

    Okay, so my pastor mentioned in a business meeting the other day that he'd like for our church to move towards having "hymnals in the pews." First of all, we don't have pews, second we have MediaShout (I think that's what it's called). I asked my pastor why he thought hymnals are a good idea. He said that hymnals may be the only theology book most people in the congregation will ever hold. I told him that if we want to teach the people systematic or Biblical theology, we ought to teach it, not be satified with them holding a book on a Sunday morning. I've had more then a few people come to me with concern. It just seems to me that this would be a step backwards, and it would certainly be perceived as that by people coming to church for the first time; believer or unbeliever.

    We certainly do hymns, probably more than a lot of churches with a contemporary style of worship. That's not the issue. I think that part of it is that our pastor was raising in the south and he's sort of nostalgic for a lot of what went on when he was growing up.

    Your thought?

  • #2
    I think it really depends on the model of your church. Are you guys trying to cater to the unchurched or the churched? My view is that there are tons of churches across the nation who do the hymnbook thing well. Most of them are about 50-200 people big and they are all third generation in that church. Simply, it's a good model but for some reason doesn't seem to be a good model for growth. It's the churches that make every effort to connect with people through relevant and appropriate communications that grow. They found out that reading off of a screen is easier and gets more participation than being bound to holding a book. It's hard to raise hands with a book in them. It's hard to follow a long through 5 verses, a refrain, D.S. al Coda's, and pickup notes. No musical knowledge is needed to follow along on a screen.

    And think, they were "new technology" over single sheets of paper which was an improvement over scrolls. I think it's time for the next "new technology".

    Without the nostalga and "old ways" arguments, I think hymnbooks hold many people back.
    Be Awesome for God!

    Chris Moncus
    Personal Blog | Chris Moncus Photography

    Other places to find me:
    flickr | FaceBook | Twitter

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    • #3
      We're a church plant. Our goal is to impact our community. We have a lot of new believers. I don't think we fit the bill of a church where hymnals will work.

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      • #4
        Curious angle here:

        How many people have mentioned that THEY would like to have hymnals?

        Is the pastor the only one who feels the draw towards hymnals?

        In this situation I would suggest that the pastor is/might be wrong. Hopefully, he is one who (though tough) desires to hear truth, and the truth in this situation is that for a church plant, UNLESS you're a church plant in a gated retirement community, hymnals are not the way to go.

        But as far as church plants go, most of the time, they are planted to reach people who haven't already been reached by the "established" churches. And I guarantee, especially where I'm from, the majority of people are sending brief text messages, leaving short voice mails, and watching fast-paced action-packed t.v. series...so in my thinking, slowing down to grab a hymnal (versus a slick presentation screen) just ain't gonna happen.

        P.S. We are a successful plant in the "South" that doesn't use hymnals.

        ***Spits 'backy juice and restrings fiddle***
        Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church .He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.

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        • #5
          Hey Stevie,
          In addition - this is a case where we hope that the leadership structure in your church plant has Elders or other overseers that can speak into this ... a plurality of leadership is critical here, and if the Pastor is the ONLY ONE who thinks this is a good move ... proper leadership structure can temper this with the "wisdom of a multitude of counselors" and possibly steer away from that.

          I'm not trying to choose sides (although I can't imagine how buying hymnals is a good idea in your situation) .... just saying that if the pastor is the only one who feels this way, there should be something in place where more input is given.
          Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
          blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

          Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
          www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
          www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

          Comment


          • #6
            Also from South Georgia, I haven't used a hymnal in church in about 5 years (except for the occasional Christmas service).

            BTW...
            "hymnals may be the only theology book most people in the congregation will ever hold"
            ... I know a pretty good theology book to put in the pews, or under the chairs, or somewhere called the B-I-B-L-E, yes that's the book for me. I'd also shoot for not just getting a Bible in the pews but getting them in the hands of the people to keep and take home.
            Be Awesome for God!

            Chris Moncus
            Personal Blog | Chris Moncus Photography

            Other places to find me:
            flickr | FaceBook | Twitter

            Comment


            • #7
              Yeah, we do have kind of an elder board. What does that mean? I'll have to give a brief history of our church. We started almost a year ago. About sixty of our founding members were part of a church in which the leadership was found to be in sin. We went to them individually and then with multiple members a la Matthew 18. Those of us who were aware of the situations had no other choice but it bring it before the church. We called a special business meeting, but the church voted not to hear the charges. So basically, they stopped the Matthew 18 process. We really had no other choice but to leave. About sixty of the hundred who left felt led to start a church. A couple of us taught for a while until we could get an interim pastor. During this time we voted in an interim leadership team. There was no talk of qualifications of elders found in say 1 Tim and Titus. To be honest, I'm not sure if there would have been many people who were qualified. I'm sure that some of people on the team are not qualified accord to 1 Tim. and Titus. They are basically functioning as a building committee for the time being. I'm pretty sure that none of them would strongly oppose the pastor if it came to that. One of the people on this team is my father-in-law, and I know he's parrotted some things that I've talked to him about. I'm not sure if he backs me or just mentions that I've said them. Well, anyway I'm getting a little off topic. Let me veer back. So to answer the question, there's really no one to oppose him except me a maybe a handful of people in the congregation. I really don't want it to come to that. To be honest, I think it's pretty silly to be arguing about hymnals when there's so much ministry to be done. I guess the thing that bothers me is the willingness to spend a significant amount of money, as well as alienate majority of the people in the congregation and new comers, for a personal preference.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by chrismoncus View Post
                ... I know a pretty good theology book to put in the pews, or under the chairs, or somewhere called the B-I-B-L-E, yes that's the book for me. I'd also shoot for not just getting a Bible in the pews but getting them in the hands of the people to keep and take home.
                Amen, brother....amen. Our people are actually pretty Biblically literate, which is why I don't get the pastors argument that a hymnal is the only theology book they'll ever hold. Also, if they only "hold" it on a Sunday morning I don't see how it's doing them anymore good than seeing it on a screen.

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                • #9
                  [QUOTE=blindeyesopen;4581]Curious angle here:

                  How many people have mentioned that THEY would like to have hymnals?

                  Is the pastor the only one who feels the draw towards hymnals?
                  QUOTE]

                  I've not heard anyone say that they think it's a good idea. When he mentioned it there was like this awkward pause... I think I heard a few crickets.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    i serve at a church that uses both hymnals AND screen projection...... its a difficult balance, but we've found ways to make it work.
                    when i spoke to one of our elders about being the new worship leader, his advice to me was to use the hymnals periodically because the church spent a decent amount of time finding good ones and spent a decent amount of money to get them and the members wanted to use them. good point. most of our members are over the hill, but the bulk of our "attenders" are way under the hill: college, seminary students, and young families. BUT, our members are the ones that are loyal and hardworking and supportive of this church - its THEIR church..... and i respect that, and submit to that, and wanna serve them while creating an atmosphere of worship that is inviting and engaging for visitors as well.
                    so, its a delicate balance for me.
                    we have a blended service, so bouncing from hymn/hymnal to contemporary/screen is not a problem. but i still haven't gotten used to the "Please stand and turn in your hymnals to # so & so as we sing the 1,2,4 verses"...

                    i think its important for our church/attenders to occasionally hold a hymnal - its helpful to read the music for songs we might not be familiar with (we even printed out sheet music for our younger crowd to learn the new contemporary songs we were introducing! we made in-house contemporary hymnals).... there's a history and heritage in hymnals - a blessing for the younger crowd to hold a book in their hands that has such rich songs, creeds, prayers, responsive readings, etc. also, hymnals offer suggestions/ideas for worship that we might not consider off the top of our heads, and for that we're thankful. publishers like zondervan are printing modernized hymnals with worship songs and creative "blended" sets... we have this type of hymnal and its quite useful.

                    here's the exciting thing: our church attendance has more than doubled in the past 6 weeks. we've suddenly jumped from 30 to nearly 100. a lot of college students and young families are starting to trickle in.... and i don't think our navy blue hymnals are running them off.

                    anyway, as far as how it should work in your church, its a question of "philosophy of worship." and it sounds like that hasn't been completely resolved if your pastor is pushing in one direction and every one else sits there silently...... i can't tell you what your church should do, but i can tell you the pro's and con's of our methods.

                    hope this helped,

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Mandy,
                      Fabulous, balanced response. Thanks SO MUCH for taking the time to contribute ... I think there is a wealth of wisdom in your response. Your comment about how all those college students keep coming .... that those blue hymnals are not scaring them off .. that's it.

                      I think the most RELEVANT thing we can have is AUTHENTICITY. If we pull a hymnal and sing a song ... and it's authentic, genuine, and full of passion, I think it will attract people!
                      Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
                      blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

                      Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
                      www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
                      www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Mandy,

                        I agree that a hymnal and projector can work. In your context, many of your members want a hymnal, and you already have them. In my situation, I know most of the members haven't used hymnals for something like ten years, and I've never heard anyone mention missing them. I think the history issues has to do with the songs sung and creeds spoken, not necessarily the mediums used. We have to remember that for much of Christian history the most laymen were illiterate. They would have to learn the songs by memorizing them. There's a thought...let's take away hymnals and projectors and make the congregation memorize the songs. Anyway, I appreciate the perspective.

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                        • #13
                          Great post Mandy.

                          I guess it all boils down to the "culture" of worship you are trying to establish, which is directly reflective of the "culture" of worshipers that attend.

                          It's always been a delicate balancing act, this thing called leadership. Trying to lead in new directions while continuing to embrace the ways of old. Not that either is right or wrong by themselves, but the challenge is in finding ways to communicate timeless truths with changing technology and media.

                          Although I am all for blending worship styles, there will eventually be a point in history when hymnals are so outmoded that they won't be utilized at all. Think clay tablets, scrolls, rolls of continuous printer paper, room sized computers, steam powered trains, etc.

                          Not that any of those shouldn't be revisited in the approprote historical context, but eventually projector screens, yamaha motifs, macbooks, ipods, etc. will all be outmoded as well.

                          That's where the balancing act comes in. Because the church SHOULD BE made up of a wide generational spectrum, how do we engage more than one generation at any given point?

                          The simple answer is to blend. Application: pretty tough.
                          Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church .He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm of the same mind as Fred on this one. I think Plurality of leadership is key here. Obviouslly every idea I have for the youth ministry I lead isn't good, that's why I have a leadership team to help me develop vision. Whatever the case is, though, if he ends up wanting hymnals, it'll be up to you to support him.

                            Just remember: true submission to authority is revealed by how you respond to leadership moves you don't agree with.

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                            • #15
                              I agree that we need to have a plurality of elder. We're moving in that direction. Actually, it will be elder-led, congregational-rule. In other words, anything like a larger financial decision has to be brought before the congregation for a vote. There's actually talk of making me an elder. We'll have to see.

                              But you're right. If the decision is made, I'll have to submit. My reason for posing the question was to see if there's some angle I hadn't considered........and to get another thread going.

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