When I accepted the senior pastor position at WCC, some well-meaning friends told us, “A traditional church today will die!”
A few weeks ago our associate pastor’s wife, Jessica Connell, sent me a message while they were attending the ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors) conference at John MacArthur’s church, Grace Community: “I wanted to tell you last night when they opened up with Great Is Thy Faithfulness, the worship leader asked people to open their hymnals. Then he said, ‘Some of you have never opened one of these before. Pick it up and become acquainted with this wonderful book.’ It made us smile. We’re so thankful that our children are acquainted with these great hymns of faith.”
Jessica’s message reminded me of those ominous words I was told four years ago. I have to be honest – and although I’m embarrassed to say this – those were some of the scariest words I’d ever heard…especially when combined with a comment from the pastor search committee when I was candidating: “If nothing changes financially, we’ll only be able to pay you for the next eight months.” But, by God’s grace, WCC hasn’t died…and it seems like John MacArthur’s church hasn’t died either.
The similar criticism we heard was, “A traditional church won’t attract any young people!” I don’t know the exact demographics of our church, but one of the most common observations I’ve heard from new people is, “You sure have a lot of young people here!” Whether it’s children, teenagers or young married couples we seem to have a lot. I don’t think it would be too much to say those are the largest demographics at WCC.
When Katie and I first visited WCC four-and-a-half years ago, I remember using the hymnal…something I hadn’t done before. Even though our previous church had hymnals, we didn’t really use them. If hymns were sung, the words were put on the screen in the front of the sanctuary.
Needless to say, when we came to WCC and everyone took out the hymnals to sing from, we were shocked. Seriously. But there were a number of things we loved immediately: we loved the way the music sounded. We loved the use of instruments we hadn’t heard used before in service (like the violin, flute and now cello). We loved how there wasn’t a desire to entertain, but to honor the Lord we were worshiping.
We came to WCC really enjoying contemporary Christian music. There’s a lot of it we really don’t like anymore, but a lot of it we still really enjoy, like the songs we sing at WCC in addition to the hymns (How Great Is Our God, Blessed Be Your Name, Before the Throne of God Above, Indescribable, 10,000 Reasons, etc). Over time we really began to love the richness of the hymns. Our children are memorizing them now as we sing them at church and in our home, and I appreciate that while they’re doing so they’re also learning theology. It’s safe to say that now we’re very thankful to be part of a “traditional church.”
Here are some videos of music practice to give you an idea what it sounds like at WCC: