GoingFullCircleBlog

Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ

Here’s Why I’m Not Big on Blended Services

3 Comments

wondering Our “blended” worship is often restricted to a blend of only contemporary and traditional church styles. A true blend must be more representative of the musical heart languages of our church and include all musical styles prevalent in our community: bluegrass? urban? pop? etc. etc. To be honest, though, I believe that worship is more effective offering different styles in multiple services wherever believers differ in their musical heart language, as opposed to simply offering one blended service. Different services of different styles allows traditional worshipers to continue to embrace the hymnody of the past while other groups embrace styles that resonate with them.

And most of our church members are not spiritually mature “to wait their turn to get what they want.”  That’s why blended worship has often been called “the equal opportunity offender.”

Radio stations understand that blending seldom works. Top forty stations don’t offer a daily classical symphony; country stations don’t suddenly break in with a few jazz selections, and rap stations don’t program an occasional hour of contemporary adult hits and oldies.

So if we are going to truly connect our people with God in deeper discipleship and active missions, we must know our church’s heart languages. Too often we assume we know our people and their favorite styles of expression. Have you polled them lately to see exactly what their heart language is?  Email me at markpowers@scbaptist.org if you would like to see some samples of worship polls for your congregation.

One thing the radio preference chart shows in last week’s blog is that we probably don’t even know what they are listening to on their way home from church. (Click here to see last week’s blog: http://wp.me/p4ybbl-az.) It is dangerous to assume we are on target with our worship planning and are speaking their cultural language without researching it.

Or worse, we are being just plain arrogant if we think we know what is best for them and what style God prefers. 

— Mark Powers

 

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Author: Mark Powers

Director, Worship and Music, South Carolina Baptist Convention, Columbia SC. Author - "GOING FULL CIRCLE: Worship that Moves Us to Discipleship and Missions" - www.GoingFullCircle.org (Resource Publications, Wipf & Stock, Eugene OR, 2013) President, www.WorshipWise.com - Growing Brilliant Worship Leaders . Presenter/Speaker on the MusicArts Mission Movement (M3). To contact MP about presenting or speaking for your conference or training event, e-mail markpowers@scbaptist.org or call 803-227-6166. I would love to come and share how your worship ministries can join God on mission in your community!

3 thoughts on “Here’s Why I’m Not Big on Blended Services

  1. That’s GREAT, John! You have walked your church through a process of spiritual maturity to help them overcome their inclination toward being open only to their own heart language. You truly are not the norm, unfortunately. I applaud what you have done and are doing. MP

  2. Mark,
    I agree in principal to the advantages of keeping the services contents consistent with the cultural genre of the worshippers. For many years I used the multiple services approach to worship. Here at Third, we have had as many as four morning services in two locations and of Contemporary and Traditional styles. We have discovered that our community suffered greatly from not worshipping together. I don’t believe worship in the Kingdom of God will separate us.
    We began the change by developing Worship Values that our body could agree on. We then spent many months (led by the Worship Committee) meeting and talking about the values and the need to worship together. We used the Summer to experiment with converging the music and liturgy. We now have a liturgical (a lot of congregational participation) service with what we consider the “best” of newer more contemporary music of several genres including bluegrass, gospel and pop (based upon the gifts of our musicians). We also use original pieces composed by some of our own people. We also have Choir, pipe organ, brass and orchestral instruments and don’t apologize for presenting excellent classical and traditional genres. We also sing lots of hymns, some retuned and some true to their original voicing.
    It has been a journey of adjustment but the majority of our congregation is on board. We were not afraid to ask people to consider sacrificing some of their personal preferences for the good of the whole. We have many stories of God working through many of our ardent contemporary worshippers who were learning new pieces and ways to worship. Likewise, many disappointed traditional worshippers hung in there long enough to actual enjoy helping children learn hymns and meeting people they did not even know prior to this. Of course we lost a few families in the process but new growth has far exceeded the losses. Having a visionary pastor at the heart of this is vital.
    I know we are not the norm. We now have three back to back identical services and will soon have to add more. It has extended the opportunities for participation and we are now able to combine our musical resources instead of dividing them. It is becoming a real Joy. Having experienced this for over a year we are now seeing the need to become more multi-cultural due to our ever changing community.
    John White

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