Another big issue that emerged from recent blogs concerns:
Leslie really made me think (Worship Conflict, April 2): "Division can't be cured by putting everyone in the same room and singing the same songs.....unity and community have to be about something much deeper - share values, purpose and mission." He suggested that different worship styles based on stylistic options could be compensated by shared ministry and small groups. He welcomed diversity of multi-congregations and multi- small groups as long as they share the same mission.
Here is a bigger issue than worship styles. Churches sometimes have divided services because of building size. I know of churches which have outgrown their building but have two or three identical services at different times on Sunday (or even Saturday evening). So the division isn't caused by music! Yet, the question about what keeps such multi-congregations unified is complex. Leslie suggests shared values, small groups and mission hold people together.
However, sometimes (more often?) it's the Senior Pastor, or the Worship Team, or lively programs integrating different age groups. In fact, the different congregations do seem to act as different churches. Meaningful relationships can only occur in smaller groups, but how often do these intentionally connect people who come at 9.00am with those at 10.30 am?
Somehow it seems of different order when churches divide not because of building size, but by decisions within the congregation to separate, whether because of music or anything else. Yes, people may be able to "relax" and "worship more easily" - and, indeed, the church can grow. But cannot the diversity of God's people ever be present by the mutual sharing of every part of the act of worship? Is not being the body of Christ so important that it dominates all else, including music choices?
I know this subject of divided congregations raises much more than this. But I still feel(as someone who loves music) that music has been allowed to become too important!