Don’t you just love short, sweet church services? Boutique style services on Sunday morning are popping up everywhere. You can almost leave your car running and get your weekly dose of the Holy Ghost before kickoff or tip-off and without dozing off!
With that luxury comes a casualty. Staples of the church are discarded in favor of a more “inviting” church service. In the black Baptist church, African-American traditions like call and response devotion songs have been (as Bishop Derrick Day would say) shown "the left foot of fellowship". This caught the attention of Yahoo Viewfinder whose expose’ on hymn lining and its struggle to remain relevant in the modern black church. Practices like hymn lining and strong Sunday School units are what empowered oppressed African-Americans through the years. Now it seems that the black Baptist congregation has discarded these practices in the attitude of achievement of freedoms,equality and all other aspirations from years ago.
Larger congregations coupled with younger congregations are sweeping this tradition under the rug of modernism. To it's discredit, there really is no way to modernize something as dated as slavery itself. However, little work has been done in an attempt to bridge the past with the future to the undoing of the very fiber of the black Baptist denomination. Youth today frown up at devotion period,but come alive at praise and worship time. How about a compromise for mixed congregations?
Churches struggle to self identify when the congregation ages older and younger simultaneously. The Lord has no shortage of wisdom for a scenarios like these. Perhaps the time honored tradition could be celebrated during mid-week service or during a Sunday evening service. Maybe a shortened version could be allowed during the main worship service. These are mere suggestions, but with a changing demographic traditions must be reexamined and retooled so as to not lose efficiency. This is similar to the departure of testimony service in the Church of God in Christ.
The most popular hymn lining example is “Guide Me O’ Thou Great Jehovah”. This hymn and its familiar tune were used to begin church services and stir up saints all over the South. As Sunday School in to the ensuing education of slaves,hymn lining’s roots stem back to slavery and the musical genius that was implanted into American society with each shipload of African slaves.
In the modern church, the stage and pulpit rivals a night club. You can jump around and even have a mosh pit in some churches. The concert like atmosphere that many churches have opted for has made little room for the potent opening act that hymn lining can be. Does it prolong service, do the kids get restless? Maybe, but it’s not to be discarded. The phrase “do this in remembrance of me” comes to mind. Inclusion into a service, bible study or other gathering will undoubtedly connect today’s African-American generation to its forefathers in the faith.
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