When I started attending Portstewart convention some 40 years ago, one of the outstanding characteristics of the week was the praise. The accompaniment was by Mrs Marrie Millar on the piano, and that was just what it was - accompaniment.
This has continued for the Bible Readings when a lady plays the keyboard and accompanies the praise. The praise is dignified, reverent and respectful of the God Who is being praised.
Nowadays, for the evening meetings there is a 'worship band' and a 'worship leader.' And their purpose? To do what they can to smother the praise and drown out the words that are sung in praise of God.
Sadly, this new way of praising God has been brought in by the new generation of committee members who want to attract the younger Christian to the meetings. But if this worldly-imitating music is what it takes to attract young Christian to hear the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, then that is an eloquent commentary of where young people are at spiritually. It tells me that so accustomed are they to rock music in their everyday lives that they cannot live without it when they come into God's house. Such music reminds me of the 1960s when contemporary music reflected the rebellion against authority that was common in that age. They cannot tolerate quietness or even silence - there must be npoise everywhere, and the louder the better.
Is this worldliness or what? Is this not the church imitating the godless age in which we live?
Indeed, the almost repetition of songs and choruses, the jumping back and forth to earlier and later verses, the man-centredness of the lyrics and the almost romanticised expressions describing and/or facilitating their devotion of Christ, are not God-honouring at all. The older generation of attendees at Portstewart are not in the least impressed by the noise and the lack of reverence that is exhibited in the evening meetings. In fact, the praise presents a contrary 'message' to that delivered by the evening preacher.
What will happen when the targetted youths become less than enamoured of the current music style at Portstewart? One of two things will happen: either the committee will follow the Keswick in Cumbria and hype up the music to become inmdistinmguishable from Top of the Pops in order to retain these mal- contented young people; or they will leave and go tyo the various Vineyard fellowships that are darting up around the country. I fear that when Portstewart is no longer noisy enough for this constituency, it will follow its elderly mother and go down the rock road.
May God have mercy on us all.