Innovation vs. Comfort

3 comments Written on March 30th, 2012     
Filed under: Intergenerational, Leadership, Music, Style of Worship
Today’s post comes to us from Kim Aliczi, a worship leader and member at Trinity Covenant Church in Manchester, CT.

Ten years ago, during the adoption of our youngest son, my husband and I ended up spending Easter in Russia – without our other two children, away from our church, our family, our friends – but with a young Baptist missionary couple. We had been in the country for over 2 weeks, I was homesick and heartsick, and thankfully they invited us to worship in their small apartment that Easter morning. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, the music I wanted to sing was not Darlene Zschech or Chris Tomlin – or whoever else was “cool” in worship circles at that time. All I wanted to hear played, all I wanted to sing at the top of my lungs were the old hymns – and as I tearfully choked my way through “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” which was accompanied on their little, out of tune spinet, I experienced one of the most beautiful and memorable Easter Sunday services I’ve ever been a part of.

I share this story not because I’m nostalgic during this, and every, Easter season (well, OK, maybe a little), but because I need constant reminding that my desire as a worship leader to heap on the creativity during these high and holy times in the Christian faith is sometimes in need of a little reining in. Now hear me out – there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting innovation and creativity to work. I’m a rebel an innovator by nature. However, sometimes it’s the tried and true, the comfortable and familiar, the old stand-bys; it’s these songs that not only point people to Christ, they have the power to bring people back to the faith.

For those of us who lead worship week in and week out – more often than not it is WE who crave something different, not necessarily those in the congregation. When I began leading worship in my late 20’s, I believed only the old-fashioned loved the old hymns. Now that I’m in my late 40’s, I’m discovering that despite my love of the innovative, I’m also the one who sometimes craves the security of the familiar.

So – my question to you is twofold… who out there resonates with this, and if so, how do you create a balance in your churches between comfort and innovation?

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3 comments “Innovation vs. Comfort”

That’s wonderful, Kim! Thank you for sharing. I’m not always successful but I do both. We innovate and we do the familiar. People sometimes take “sides” and sometimes grumble about what they like and don’t like, but I keep doing both anyway. When I do something that’s way out of the ordinary I balance it with the familiar. A simple example is learning a new song. The band will play it for gathering music or offertory one Sunday and the next Sunday or the one following we’ll teach the congregation. Right after the new song we’ll sing one they know well. I do this with more than music, but that’s the easiest example at this moment.
Thanks again for sharing.

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I suppose it depends on what you mean by “comfortable” … because lots of people don’t know hymns, so to do them can be “innovative” in certain settings, while doing no singing can also be “comfortable” … 

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Hey Chris – “comfortable”, meaning whatever that means to your congregation. It’ll probably be different as you move from place to place. And for the record, I think I should have used “familiar” or “nostalgic” or even “sentimental” rather than “comfortable.” When I think “comfortable” I think “plushy sofa” – LOL.

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