I once sat through a session on how to start a contemporary worship service. The session was troubling for one main reason. The speaker suggested that in order to have a contemporary service you must first throw everything else out. Thankfully, this wasn't exactly what it meant, however, it touched on a reality that is all too prevalent as we approach modern worship. We often think we need to reinvent the wheel so to speak.
It is easy to forget that those hymn books we occasionally love to hate aren't the result of one person's creative ideas. Rather they are a compilation of ideas that have been built on for years and years.
Now, some of you may think that I am trying to make the argument "this is how we've always done it". Not at all! Rather, we have the opportunity to let those who have gone before us influence what we create.
I once heard Sandra McCracken explain the importance of selecting songs from different decades. She suggested that by drawing on different writers from their uniquely different contexts we would get a more complete picture of Christianity. A broader understanding. That is exactly why it is important not t begin with a blank slate but rather let our history influence our creativity.