Five things in worship that are different today compared to when I was a child

I ‘came of age’ in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and to me, a lot has changed in corporate worship over the past three decades. Enjoy this little trip down memory lane as we review five things that have changed in worship through the years:


HYMN BOARD SLIDES: Do you remember these little boards? Everything from Hymn numbers and attendance to weekly offering totals. As a little kid, I would sit in worship and add these numbers together as a fun math game. I don’t see these boards around much anymore in our churches, but I’m sure some still use them.


SOUND, LIGHTING & VIDEO: A lot has changed in the areas of sound, lighting and video over the years in worship.

In sound, we’ve gone from a glorified ‘loudspeaker’ system in many of our churches to high definition Dolby Stereo Line Array surround sound.

In lighting we’ve gone from stationary incandescent lights to complex digital synchronized LED lighting systems.

I can still remember the portable screen and projector we used in worship back In the 1970’s to view video footage. Now we view videos in 1080P on giant mounted screens through rear projection. I still remember the controversy in our church when we decided to begin projecting worship lyrics on the screens. My! How scandalous!

FAMILY WORSHIP: I have vivid memories of worshipping alongside my sisters, parents, their parents, and their parents, too. It seems now in many cases, we participate in worship that is both age and style specific. In many venues family worship is becoming a thing of the past.

REGULAR ATTENDANCE: Do you remember the little pins given out for perfect attendance? I remember a lady in my home church received a special one for not missing a Sunday over a period of 10 YEARS ! ! ! !   Worshippers do not attend nearly as often as 30 years ago. In fact – a ‘regular attender’ now attends worship 16 times per year. The times certainly have changed.

REVIVAL SERVICES AND TWO WEEK VBS: If your church was like mine, twice a year we had ‘revival’ services. These were special worship events that typically lasted one week, often accentuated by focused evangelistic emphasis. I haven’t been part of a ‘revival service’ in over a decade.

We still have Vacation Bible School, but it doesn’t last two weeks like it did when I was a kid. We’ve become more efficient with our efforts through the years, or maybe have shorter attention spans. I’ve served in some churches where VBS lasted only 4 days.


Well, a lot about worship certainly has changed through the years, but the core of what we DO in worship has remained the same since the time of Christ:

  1. We Pray & Confess
  2. We Praise & Worship
  3. We Preach & Proclaim
  4. We Baptize and take Communion
  5. We Fellowship & Encourage
  6. We Respond & go out

May these necessities of worship NEVER change as we grow into the future.


John Parker



A native of Louisiana, John Parker holds the BM in Vocal Performance from Louisiana College and the MM in Choral Conducting from Northwestern State University. Composing primarily for church and school choirs, John’s 600+ choral works are published by numerous state-side companies. Active as a choral clinician and lecturer, Mr. Parker is author of How to Start a Fine Arts Academy in Your Church and numerous drama collections.
John and his family make their home in Austin, TX where John has served as Associate Pastor of Worship & Music at Austin Baptist Church since 2014.




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