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VOLUME 1 • ISSUE 7   |   Release date: December 15, 2003

In This Issue
Saddam Hussein Converts
Re-Commits Outnumber Conversions
Church Expels Non-Purpose Driven
Obese Bishop
Worship Leaders Annoyed
Survey Results
Church Sign of the Month Christmas Special

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Worship Leaders Annoyed By Recent Worship CD Trend

Worship leaders nationwide are expressing annoyance at the recent surge in popularity of worship CDs, commercially produced recordings of worship songs by famous musicians in the Christian community. The outcry is primarily due to inability of local worship leaders to live up to heightened expectations the CDs have created.

Most worship leaders can't possibly make their church bands sound as good as those recordings, and that leaves parishioners wanting more. Joe Dawson, music minister at Alders Church of the Nazarene, is frustrated by what he calls unreasonable expectations. "What, am I supposed to make this band sound like it came from a million-dollar studio session? All I have is my keyboard and [78 year-old singer] Myrtle Oliver! They won't even let me use the drums for the morning service!" That irony is all too common. A recent Zogby poll indicates that more than half of people who own one or more contemporary worship CDs also describe their church's worship style as "traditional."

Rev. Walter Dunlop, Alders Nazarene's senior pastor, is somewhat understanding of his worship leader's situation. "I know how Joe feels," explained Dunlop, 68. "How do you think I feel when I know that a high percentage of our people listen to sermon tapes from Bill Hybels on their way to church?" But he remained unwilling to allow Dawson to explore new styles during the morning service, fearing "a very negative" reaction to "rock and roll" among some of the congregation's older establishment.

Unless that moratorium is lifted, Dawson and his counterparts will have to continue to face the challenge of disappointed worshipers. Until then, keyboard-driven hymns and aging backup vocalists will have to suffice.

The frustration is not unique to worship leaders at small churches, however. Don Chaffer, a popular indie-label worship songwriter, expressed a frustration common among the writing community that big-name musicians receive undue credit for songs they didn't even write. Chaffer wrote the music and lyrics to "You Are So Good To Me," a song that became wildly popular only after it was recorded by supergroup Third Day on their recent worship CD, Offerings II. In a recent interview with THO, Chaffer lamented, "Now whenever I play that song, people say stuff like, 'Oh, I love Third Day!' I'm like, 'Whatever…I wrote this song eight years ago.' Of course they don't believe me. Frankly, it really pisses me off!"

The silver lining for both local worship leaders like Dawson and talented writers like Chaffer is a paycheck at the end of each month. Royalties from the use of "You Are So Good To Me" are currently funding a new studio project for Chaffer's group Waterdeep. Dawson, for his part, appreciates the opportunity to be employed doing something he loves. "I love music, and I love Jesus. Even though I may not have as much freedom as I'd like, I'm grateful for my job. I guess."

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