I am a lifelong musician, longtime worship leader and love worship music and music of all types–but I am definitely partial to modern, contemporary worship with a rock and roll edge. And that “edge” sometimes rears its head in the volume of our instrumentation, our song choices and style of leading. So from time to time I try to change things up by leading an acoustic set, or starting the worship set with a slow introspective song, or doing something else that might help bridge the gap between young and old, old school and new school or traditional and contemporary.
One week a few years ago while preparing for worship that coming Sunday I had the “brilliant” idea to incorporate a few hymns into the worship set. This would clearly make the older or more traditional folks happy, right? So I grabbed my guitar and proceeded to play “Come Thou Fount” in my comfortable up-tempo, modern style. It sounded great, if I can say so myself. But a few minutes later I realized how “not” brilliant this was. To someone that loves contemporary worship and traditional hymns, this was the equivalent of a worship leader playing my favorite Third Day or Toby Mac song on an accordion and saying, “See I did this just for you.”
So if you’re a worship leader in the kind of church that has a little bit of everything, by all means sing and play some hymns, just don’t ruin them like I almost did. It’s perfectly acceptable to add your own team’s style to a hymn, just make sure you can still tell it is that beloved hymn.