CULTURE & Do People Get Stuck in a Cultural Time-warp at New Birth? #LeadershipExercise

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/21/15.

I’ve observed at many Boomer and even Xer churches that the congregants often prefer slightly modernized versions of the choruses and worship songs that were popular in the period in which they were saved.  And recently, I’ve seen the same things in my Millennial clients.

So, that got me thinking if people linked in their minds a “powerful worship experience” with the styles of music and worship that were utilized when they were saved.

We all know that the generation gap creates a communication gap, and so people often retreat into the familiar.  Then we look across the “gaps” and because of the chasm we often don’t quite understand those on the other edge.  But, to help facilitate growth and health we have to try to understand other cultures by looking at things from their perspective.

For example, I know many of you realize that many of older generations like to dress up on Sunday, and this may be because they remember how much of an honor it was to leave their factory workweek and dress up for Sunday.  It showed honor and respect to their King.

Today many Boomer/Xer professionals dress up all week, and thus like to be causal on weekends (I do).  Therefore, they point out that clothes don’t matter.  And they are right, they don’t … to them.  But to others who remember a long history of honoring God in this fashion (pun intended), clothes show honor to God.

I have a theory I would love some DMin or PhD student of mind to address in a dissertation.  And that is:

“Do people have a tendency to get stuck in a time-warp during the era when we were saved.”

Now, here is the leadership exercise:

  • Ask yourself, have you seen this?
  • Have you ever seen people so impacted at a time when everything just seemed rosy that they are always trying to approximate and recreate that era?

I think we all have this predilection, and thus need to be encouraged to move forward with Jesus and understand emerging cultures.  Remaining in the past makes us ineffective, and the Adversary knows it.

Below are some of the interesting (and humorous) stories from students in reply.

John C., 10/22/2015
Good question Dr. Whitesel. The answer I believe is yes. Let me elaborate. I think that when a person gets saved they remember the feelings and the experience they had and much of it might relate to the music that was used even the setting they were in. I have a friend who is now around 80. For Ernie his conversion experience happened as a young man in a Salvation Army in the South. Soon after he was enrolled as a soldier and put on this uniform. A few years after this Ernie went to The Salvation Army training college and two years later became an officer. During this time brass bands were very popular in the Army. Ernie loved to play his cornet and as a young man even played in a number of big bands in the South. For Ernie music was very important and much of his ministry revolved around music. Fast forward 50 years and Ernie is now coming to our new church plant in Coeur d’Alene as a retired minister. We decided to use a worship band to start this church with a blended music approach. The church quickly grew to 300 but Ernie was constantly on me about the music. I encouraged Ernie to start a Hymn Sing in the evenings and so he did. It also became very popular with the seniors in our community and many came from other churches for this once a month service. The common theme that I heard from all of these seniors was how much they missed singing Hymns. They would all reflect back to their younger years and how great the church was back then. So my theory is music, as well as the order of service play a huge role for many believers as they reflect back to that moment in time when they experienced conversion. I think what is missing is that church becomes an experience that some try to live over and over hoping to have that same feeling that they did when they got saved.