I’ll be honest right from the beginning: when it comes to music in worship, I’m a hymn-person. Always have been. Especially as a youth, when everyone assumed that because of my age I must be a fan of praise-and-worship music! It’s one of the things that I love about worshipping in a Mennonite congregation: the sense of echoing the faith of those who have gone before us in Christian history, the evocative, poetic theologies of several verses of carefully crafted lyrics, and, of course, the rich, four-part harmonies, blending many distinct voices into a communal act of praise.
Sometimes I think the church struggles with the tension between its individual members and its task of being a communal body. In a socio-economic context such as ours, where individual choice is paramount, different branches of the Christian church have tried to address this tension in different ways.
Within the more evangelical traditions, the tendency is to make faith as specific to individuals as possible: it’s about Jesus as my personal saviour who died for me and a “brand” of Christianity that’s tailor-made for my individual lifestyle and needs.
A 17th-century Dutch church. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Earlier this month, I was one of many who gathered in the new Marpeck Commons building at Canadian Mennonite University to hear from a panel of “young adults” on their age group and the church.  Judging by the size of the audience (they had to go get extra chairs!), and a feature article on a similar topic in the Feb. 16, 2015 issue of Canadian Mennonite,  this is an issue that many churches are currently profoundly concerned and anxious about.