This past week our church’s administrative council wrestled with a proposed changing of worship times between three services and Sunday School. While a lot of feelings were shared about what is practical or convenient, perhaps the elephant in the room that was not addressed was the overall preference of worship expression. It would be assumed, given the last couple decades, that younger people and young families prefer a contemporary approach to worship. But now I’m not so sure. I’ve been hearing a murmur over the last couple years from younger families sharing their love for the traditional. Now, I could chalk this up to the fact that we’re in an inner-ring suburb that would tend to lean more traditional. But I’ve heard the same from more distinct suburban churches that you would assume is contemporary.
WHICH ONE’S BETTER?
Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each. Traditional worship styles are now so distinct and “otherly” from culture that it provides a visible and audible reminder that something special is happening. It’s more majestic…calling you out of your own way and your own life and into a sacred space. The downside is when relevancy is lost -when preaching flies over the heads of the congregation and when deep meanings to rituals and symbols become lost. Conversely, contemporary worship places heavier concentration on connecting with the congregation -what makes sense, what creates emotion, what creates interaction. The problem is that it can become too focused on people rather than God, and the singing becomes hokey and lacking depth.
A NEW ROAD
The truth is that both worship expressions can be highly effective if they are done with excellence and a sense of purpose. Too many pastors and worship leaders get into a funk of doing the same thing over and over and over again, creating monotony and boredom. I think people need to know that there is purpose and intent into the creation worship. They want to know that they are led into something meaningful, something special, something that was handled with care…something that was prayed over. What’s the future of worship expression in America’s churches? I think we’ll end up with a hybrid of traditional and contemporary, and I’m starting to see it already. People want the best of both worlds. They want the depth and meaning of traditional, but they also want relevancy. So as we discuss these “worship wars”, let’s put down the weapons and realize that a new road is being paved. A road where both expressions are headed to the same place.