Why God Has Never Done a NEW Thing Using OLD Songs

If we really are mature in our faith, we shouldn’t need things to be done our way.


Every old song used to be a new song.

I wonder who the first worship director was who said, “Hey, I like that new song John Newton wrote,” before introducing “Amazing Grace” to the church.

Whoever it was, he probably had to deal with complaints from church members who didn’t think it was as good as the hymns they were used to singing. “In six verses, the name of Jesus isn’t mentioned once, but it says ‘me,’ ‘my’ and ‘I’ 13 times! Today’s songs are so self-centered and shallow!”

In a recent post titled “Six Reasons Some Churches Are Moving Back to One Worship Style,” Thom Rainer tells us that, according to some of his recent surveys, the contemporary versus traditional worship wars may be drawing to a close.

I hope new music won.

No, I don’t hate the hymns. And I’m not a kid. I’m a mid-50s Small Church pastor who’s been in the church all my life. So I understand that many in my generation and older are touched and drawn closer in worship through the songs of their youth. But the youth of today need to be touched by songs that speak to their hearts, too. And not just in their own, segregated youth services.

Before you scroll down to the comment section to complain about spiky-haired divas leading worship teams, hear me out. First of all, why does everyone who complains about new music seem to have a problem with spiky hair? I’m OK with it. I’m sure God is too. Second, in my 35 years of pastoral ministry, I’ve met far more divas leading or singing in robed choirs than on worship teams.

Ego knows no age. And it’s wrong, no matter the style of music.

A Message for My Fellow “Mature Believers”

We sometimes use the term “mature believers,” when we’re referring to older Christians. But if we really are mature believers, we should be able to worship Jesus in any situation, no matter what the style of music is. Like the Apostle Paul, we should learn to be “Philippians 4:11” href=”http://www.biblestudytools.com/philippians/4-11.html” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>content whatever the circumstances.” Or, as I once heard an older pastor say, “I’ve learned to worship Jesus in a style of music I don’t like.” Now that’s a mature believer.

The styles and methods of outward-reaching churches cannot and should not be directed toward the long-time members. If we really are mature in our faith, we shouldn’t need things to be done our way.

So who should our methods and musical styles be geared toward? How about new and not-yet believers? Especially the young ones. Those are the ones who are at risk and are leaving the church in record numbers.

We’re losing this generation! Yes, losing them. But instead of asking ourselves “what can we do to keep our own kids and grandkids in church?” not to mention the at-risk kids in our neighborhoods, we complain that they lack commitment, they’re consumer-oriented, or they’re shallow and selfish. All because they don’t want to do church the way we want them to do it. 

Of course they’re selfish. They’re young, they’re immature and/or they’re unbelievers. Selfishness is practically their job.

Instead of demanding the impossible—that those who are immature in their faith stop wanting things their way—mature believers ought to act like mature believers. We don’t teach selflessness to immature people by demanding it of them but by being examples of selflessness among them.

Instead, we criticize today’s consumer-oriented generation, then stomp our feet and complain, “I want my church to sing the worship songs and hymns I like, or I’ll leave this church and take my tithes with me!”

Oh, the irony!

The younger generation is going to hell, while the previous generation complains that the new church music on our first-class ride to heaven is not to our liking. Ugh!

True servanthood ministry doesn’t flow from the immature to the mature, but the other way around. Mature Christians shouldn’t be coming to church to receive ministry, but to do ministry. And to support the ministry that’s being directed toward those who need it the most.

 Invite God to Do Something New

There’s not a drop of nostalgia in me for the songs we sang when I was in church as a teenager—even though they touched my heart then.

I don’t want to worship Jesus the way we did years ago, because Jesus never repeats what he did years ago. He wants to do something new, NOW! 

But how can we be ready for what God wants to do now if we’re not willing to do something as simple as singing the worship songs God is giving to today’s songwriters?

God has never done a new thing using old songs.

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Karl Vaters
Karl Vaters is the author of The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. He’s been in pastoral ministry for over 30 years and has been the lead pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California for over 20 years. He’s also the founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a blog that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors.