I was reading through USA Today early this morning and came across a brief story about the sorta-new Michael Jackson album being released by Sony. Here’s a chunk:
Posthumous Michael Jackson album ‘Xscape’ released: Even five years after his death, there is no escaping Michael Jackson. The latest evidence, Xscape, arrives Tuesday with eight “contemporized” castoffs the pop superstar recorded from 1983 to 1999.
Did you see the use of the word “contemporized”? To most people, that word means, well, what it means: to align with the current cultural trends of our day. It literally means with the times. But to me and others who have been in churchy world, “contemporary” means “the second service.” Back in the 90’s, it was called contemporary worship because it used drums, guitars, synths, Steven Curtis Chapman songs, etc. This was a contemporary take at making worship relevant to the times, dropping the choir robes and pipe organs, etc. By the way, pipe organs once comprised the contemporary service, but anyway…
I think it’s funny that Sony would define something from 1983-1999 as needing to be contemporized because much of what we do today in “contemporary” worship is based on a flow — and sometimes the material of — the 90’s. Funny, right? Maybe this is too inside to be funny to more than just my worship leader friends. Maybe even they don’t think this is funny.
Let’s drop the contemporary moniker to describe worship. Let’s make all of it contemporary by being counter-cultural to the times and therefore offering something meaningful and transcendent to the mystic-hungry culture we live in. Let’s make it Christ-centered and not style-centered. Let’s stop arguing about drums and rolling our eyes at organs. But, let’s keep rolling our eyes at accordions, because I don’t think we’re ready for that quite yet.
Discussion question: How do you “contemporize” Lord, I Lift Your Name on High (1995)?