The power of congregational song to unify (or divide) people along various lines is well documented. Yet, how this process of uniting or dividing is accomplished has proven necessarily difficult to document. This paper examines the complex and polyvalent factors that contribute to the meaningfulness of congregational music making, seeking to offer a synthetic, conceptual framework with which to engage this often murky milieu.
The importance of worship music in conversations about congregational health and growth is contested. The perception persists that worship music style is a primary means of determining comfort or belonging for “church shoppers” at a given congregation. Yet actual research shows that it has a more modest role than is assumed. Nevertheless, conversations regarding worship music abound, and with each passing publication we become more and more obsessed with finding and exploiting the correlates between worship music styles and ecclesial success.