Recently we have started to attend a new church. This 'new' church regularly has 'special music' (at least one each week). My initial thought when visiting was 'Is Special Music still valid for current Worship Services?'
If you're younger and don't know what special music is, it is basically a solo or ensemble piece that is included in the 'body' of the worship service.
Although I've been involved in a church for several years that has only had 'special music' on a very rare occasion (possibly during Advent or Good Friday) it was a bit of getting used to again. This wasn't in a bad way, just re-aclimating myself to having music that I wasn't always participating in (i.e. I wasn't singing). For some that just doesn't make sense - why would you have music that isn't 'congregational'; however, having this as a regular part of worship now for a number of weeks I can say that I've been reminded that some times we just need to 'be still and know', and sometimes that 'knowing' comes through just listening.
In our always-doing always-about-me current culture this can be a rather foreign experience; however, it can be a very important piece of 'corporate' worship for another reason, beyond just the 'being still' and 'not about me'.
The 'ah ha' moment about this part of our new worship experience came while whatching the TV show "Last Man Standing". Now, before you have an issue with it, yes, it has some 'concerning' approaches to some topics, including church and Christianity. However, this one episode specifically deals with the parents trying to get their two youngest girls (now in their late teens/twenties) to get back involved in attending corporate worship.
Their first attempt was to help 'improve' (using some 'marketing skills') the pastor's sermons. The parents were surprised that, although it did make the sermon more 'engaging' it didn't change their daughters' interest in being part of the weekly event.
The second approach was to get them directly involved in the serving - taking some responsibility in the service itself. And, not surprising, it even included some 'special music' aspect (and yes a 'CHOIR'! oh my).
This second approach was the one that worked to draw the daughters back into attending weekly services.
Now back to our 'new' church experience - you may have guessed it, a good portion of the special music involves those under 30 - not just the 'adults'. The music occasionally has a 'stray note or two' but those performing are doing it eagerly and with a worshipful heart. And this church seems to have younger members who are much more engaged in the life of the church than in our previous church - which had a very polished and professional worship 'band' but not much room for any 'stray notes'.
There are SO MANY reasons that 'special music' is a healthy part of a corporate worship service, if done properly (not specifically 'performed well'), but one important reason is the fact that by involving more than just the 'worship band' the worship experience becomes a part of the worshipping family - including those that bring the special music and all those that know that person.
SO ... maybe it's time to take a look at adding some special music to your worship service, and if you already do, maybe you need to broaden the group of people that you draw from for those pieces.