I was a teen-ager when I started to ride the band bus to football games. Often band members began a song about 100 bottles of beer, and then sung it down to a single bottle of beer. Coming from a teetotaling home I was in another orbit and never understood why kids wanted to sing about beer bottles.
But fortunately, we got a reprieve.
Peter Noone and "Herman's Hermits" came along with their chorus, "Henry the Eighth," and it killed the beer bottle song! And since those days I've heard Noone in concert and joined in with the audience to sing this fun song. Noone always gets a laugh when he says, "Second verse, same as the first!"
Sometimes church music is like the "Henry" chorus. I was at a conference when we sang a song called, "I Could Sing of His Love Forever." And we almost did. We sang it for 10 or 15 minutes. As one of my buddies standing nearby whispered to me with mock seriousness, "I get it! I get it!"
We teach in public speaking that repeating one's main points is a good memory tool, but no speaker simply repeats whole paragraphs. I'm unaware of any other discipline where repetition is used in the same way some use it in worship. The Apostle Paul argued that not only the heart but the mind should be engaged in worship (1 Corinthians 14:14).
Another trend in some places is the dearth of congregational music. A pastor friend visited a so-called contemporary church and said the music was sung by a praise team without any congregational music. How odd, I thought, since congregational singing has been an important way lay people participate in public worship. If people aren't involved in worship it becomes more a spectator sport than a corporate response to the love of God.
Some worshippers tell me they can't sing, so they don't. I sometimes chide them a bit and ask if they ever sing the National Anthem or "Happy Birthday." We sing the anthem because we love our country, and we sing the birthday song to those we love. The Bible commands us to sing to honor the Lord--vocal quality isn't a factor. I believe we lose something important when the congregation doesn't participate in worship through singing.
Worship wars aren't new. The worship in Corinth 2000 years ago was raucous and confusing; therefore the Apostle Paul counseled that "everything be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Modern worship planners must consider appropriate worship elements, including music, using our best thinking as well as the most open of hearts.