Two years ago this week, I wrote a post touting the continuing importance and practical usefulness of hymnals, and it became my first viral blog post. It was not the most well-written post. It is not the post I’m most proud of. But for some reason, it resonated with some of you, and it is to this day my most widely read post, with well over a million views.
I want to come back to this topic today, but from the other direction. In the past couple of years, the reliance on screens in worship has only continued to grow, even among churches that would consider themselves traditional or liturgical congregations.
I should preface the following remarks by saying I am not anti-technology. How could I be? I’m an early millennial, for goodness sake. (We once called ourselves “Generation Y” to distinguish ourselves from our supposedly disillusioned and ultra-pragmatic older siblings!) We were the first to grow up with computers in our homes and schools. I have trouble putting my iPhone down for more than a few anxious minutes. I don’t remember a world (or a church, frankly) without technology.
So, please don’t take what I have to say as an attack on technology in general, or some curmudgeonly old fool pining for the good old days. My “good old days” were late-90s evenings chatting with my friends on AOL Instant Messenger, anyway.
But as a millennial, as a professional church musician, and as someone who cares deeply about worship and the mission of the church, I must tell you this.
Visual technology is bad for congregational singing, and corporate worship in general.
It’s killing our ability to sing well, it’s killing our ability to sing good music, and it’s detrimental to our liturgical life. Here are a few reasons why.