Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way

“Lord it’s the same old tune, fiddle and guitar;
where do we take it from here?
Rhinestone suits and new shiny cars,
it’s been the same way for years.
We need to change.”

– – Waylon Jennings

Those are the opening lines to the Waylon Jennings song Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way.  The other afternoon I was enjoying the Florida sun and this song shuffled on and filled our backyard.  I was struck by how the song’s criticism of Nashville and country music is just as pointed today as it was in 1975.  Waylon was singing about how the Nashville machine had gotten away from the roots of country music – the song – and things like radio play, new cars, and those rhinestone suits had become more important.  The same things could be said about any genre of music today.  Is the commercialism of the song or artist more important than the songs being written?

But I spend my days playing music in the church and I was struck by how those thoughts might be just as true for our churches, we may also need a change.

Is today’s church using the (metaphorical) same old tune, fiddle and guitar from 10, 20, 30, or even 50 years ago and expecting the same results?  Or are we doing the same thing and expecting something new to happen?  Are we seeking to be relevant for today’s generation, or are we expecting today’s folks to adhere to the practices of the past?  This doesn’t mean that the actions and traditions of the past are no longer valid – quite the contrary – they are highly important because the faith of past generations are what today’s church stands upon.  But is today’s church getting a little hung up on the rhinestone suits and new shiny cars?

Many of our churches are at a generational and cultural crossroad.  Doing things the same way they’ve always been done will surely please those who lived through the past – but in doing so are we responding to the needs of today’s seeker?

Are we going to journey together into the future or will our churches fixate on how things were done in the past and ignore the needs of today’s generation longing for the Love of Christ.

We need to change.

Let’s end with a little Waylon…


Leading music for worship in a contemporary/modern style can be tricky. There is the delicate balance between leading congregation singing and playing the music in a pleasing manner, which can quickly fall into performing for the congregation.

How does one approach this task in a manner which engages the congregation to participate fully in worship, yet also offer to God something pleasing?

What are we doing?

Way back in 1524 Martin Luther wrote to George Spalatin, “Our plan is to follow the example of the prophets and the ancient fathers of the church, and to compose psalms for the people [in the] vernacular, that is, spiritual songs, so that the Word of God may be among the people also in the form of music.”

How’s that for jumping into the hot-tub time machine to start things off…