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Recently I posted my comments on loud music in churches. I've received a number of responses, personally, and comments in the blog regarding those thoughts. So far, these responses support less rowdy, more reverent music, with reduced emphasis and attention upon the worship leader and/or performers.
Now, I am not tied to organs, pianos, and hymns for my worship music. Rather, I believe the context of the service is more important. However, some Anchorage churches have thrown out many forms of theologically sound Christian music, in favor of theologically weak rock-oriented Contemporary Christian Pablum. I believe worship leaders should be hired not only for their musical training, but also by their understanding of theology. That view is also supported by Bob Kauflin, a well-known worship leader and composer.
Bob also states "There’s no question that the role of the worship leader has been exaggerated in recent decades. Some pastors give 1/3 to 1/2 of their meeting to singing, led by a musician who has little to no theological training. Gordon MacDonald comments, “For many young people choosing a church, worship leaders have become a more important factor than preachers. Mediocre preaching may be tolerated, but an inept worship leader can sink things fast.” (Gordon MacDonald, To Find a Worship Leader, Leadership Journal, Spring 2002) In addition, the rise of “worship artists” has intensified the often unhelpful connection between pop music culture and congregational worship." Click HERE for entire article "What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 1"
Recently I was asked for a list of the top ten music churches in Anchorage. This is really difficult as the styles of music differ due to neighborhood demographics and denominational leanings. However, I submit here an initial list of churches with great musical styles, rock solid theology, definitely not music as entertainment as is so popular in many churches.
Community Covenant Church - Eagle River
Well balanced and listenable traditional/contemporary instrumental group.
More contemporary, sometimes a bit loud, but quite an inspiring, and listenable group.
St. John United Methodist Church
Wonderful choir in several morning services, and contemporary folk in the evening.
Amazing Grace Lutheran
Excellent choir at 8:15 & 9:45 services only.
New Grace Christian Church
Contemporary singing and instrumental group.
St. Mary's Episcopal
Folk music ensemble at 11:30 a.m. service is a joy to experience.
Great Land Christian
Awesome acapella led music by inspired musicians.
St. John Orthodox - Chugiak
Choir and instrumentalists during service. Heavenly!
Great sounding contemporary group of instrumentalists and singers.
Anchorage Moravian - 6:30 p.m.
The praise singing by individuals and the Moravian Choir is one of the closest ways to experience spirituality in music in Anchorage.
I will add to this list, but these churches understand the spiritual power of well-performed, theologically-sound Christian music. If you have other favorites to add to this list, please let me know.