Archive for the ‘Relevance’ Category

Is Blended Worship Effective?

May 7, 2010

An expert weighs in. Blended worship doesn’t work very well. An interesting take on a creative attempt to keep people happy!


I was reading Rich Kirkpatrick’s blog post called “Contemplations & Conversations on Creative Leadership: ‘Too Good’ Part 3”.

The entire series is actually pretty good, but what really caught my attention are some of the comments he makes about “blended worship”:

“One of my favorite ‘old school’ contemporary Christian songs is Steve Taylor’s “I Want to Be A Clone.” We homogenize rather than synergize. Like a blender creating slop, we put two independently perfect items and destroy their uniqueness. This is why “blended worship” is not as effective as ministries that choose to have services with a focus. It seems far better to have a traditional service done with excellence than to mix Steve Fee on a pipe organ or Isaac Watts with a banjo. Actually, the Isaac Watts thing sounds cool, I have to admit.

“Now, I am not against blended worship, I am just concerned about the purpose some have in neutering art in their church. If you cannot pull off modern worship to sound its best or traditional worship to sound its best why try? Why not program what you can accomplish uniquely well?

“Indigenous worship is a far better choice. We use that word in global missions, but I think for worship and creativity in the local church that it makes perfect sense. The concept is that it should be important to tell our faith community’s story. While we should not be afraid to jump on trends and movements of God’s Spirit around the world, it should be our staple to make our expressions of worship flavored and colored by the stories of God’s presence and work locally.”

Perhaps this caught my attention because this is something I talk about frequently here and other places. Don’t try to do something that God didn’t equip you to do. Some churches force traditional worship styles when they don’t have the musicians / vocalists to pull it off. MANY churches try to pull off certain contemporary worship styles when they don’t have the people with the skills. The net result is a sloppy worship offering to God.

Another question that came to mind while reading this article: I know TONS of churches that do blended worship. I don’t know of a single one that I would call effective at the Great Commission. Every single one that I can think of plateaus at a relatively small number.

Honestly, until I read this, I never actually thought that forcing blended worship might actually be a bad idea.

What are your thoughts on blended worship?
What does your church do here?
Is your church growing and adding to it’s numbers?


Relevance in worship. Is it Biblical?

November 23, 2009

When I hear people talking about relevance in worship, I mostly hear people talking about music styles: “we worship this way because this is the audience we have” or “we worship this way because this is the audience we want to reach.”  For youth worship we worship one way and we worship another way with old people in the name of relevance.

Is there a Biblical command for this way of thinking?

Doug Goins in his article titled “Relevance and Irrelevance in Worship” says:

“Jesus addresses this issue in the Gospels, and it is central to the passage we are studying. What is important and unimportant in corporate worship? John 4:16-26 deals with relevance and irrelevance in worship.”

The passage:

John 4:16-26 NIV:

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

I’m not convinced that this is at all about relevance in worship, though, you might disagree if you read his article.

What is the Biblical precedent for making our worship offering relevant to the people in our congregations?  I have some ideas here, but most of them are philosophical applications and observations and not anything real concrete.

Ineffective Outreach: Pt 3/3. What About the Old Guard?

November 9, 2009

So what about the old guard?

It is important to recognize who the old guard is.  I believe that when we think “old guard” we think about the select group of saints who have figured out a way to turn white hair purple, the most senior in age among us.  That is a stereotype that has a grain of truth but only defines a small percentage of “old guards”.  In my opinion, the old guard is anybody who can be seen as a church’s core membership and or loyal servants to the kingdom and people who step up to defend or protect a method or way that they favor.  These people can be young (perhaps even high school young) these people can be middle age (like I am), these people can be my grandma (nearing the three digit age).  Yes, at 33 I am the old guard.  Yes, I have to be careful about protecting and idolizing my ways at the expense of my neighbor’s worship offering.

I think when we contemplate the old guard; it is good to recognize that they are not always in error.  We have to apply critical thought and consider what it is that they are protecting.  I think the important question here is to root out whether or not they are protecting something for their sake, or because it actually has some valuable contribution to the growth kingdom.  Do they defend hymns because they believe that hymns enhance or make our worship offering better?  Or do they defend hymns because hymns are actually spiritually better? (Hint: hymns are not actually spiritually better.)

It is important to realize that it is the leadership’s responsibility to continually grow everybody in the congregation, including those who are “old guard.”  Even more important, it is good to grow everybody where they are the weakest.  The church has a strong contingent of people who constantly push for what they want in our worship offering, insisting that what they want is the better thing to have.  Those of us who are in leadership positions tend to just give them what they want, or if we deny them what they want, we and then don’t take the time to explain to them what real worship is.  Consequently we have a body of people who don’t really understand what worship is, we have a body of people that are given to idolatry.

So what to do?  The leadership needs to find a congregation’s weakness and train in that direction.  Back in high school and shortly after, I was into weight training.  There was a weight machine that only had maybe 5-10 pounds max on it.  Naturally, I avoided it.  10 pounds is just stupid right?  On a whim I decided to get myself a trainer.  We talked and after a bit the trainer started talking up this machine.  “What is the point?” I asked.  As it turned out, the machine worked a little tiny muscle in a particular direction.  While those few extra pounds of strength on that one muscle seemed a little silly, the consequence for the other muscles was noticeable.  Strengthening in that little way helped my entire arm quite a bit!

The second thing on the to do list should revolve around creating a culture of holistic training and accountability and not letting things slide that we think are small or inconsequential.  I firmly believe that idolatry is prominent now because we continually let little things slide, especially when it comes to the “old guard”.

We tend to be worried about offending, or we think other things have more importance that we overlook little things now that might become big things later.  Many march on a mantra of peace at all costs thus compromising truth because we fear that something might be too divisive.  So when old guard Lucy says “I worship better with Hymns” we don’t council with Lucy about learning to worship without.  Instead, we hand Lucy some Hymns which tends to reaffirm to her that Hymns help her worship offering.  When old guard John establishes that he worships better with choruses, we don’t council Jon about the merits of worshiping to ones fullest no matter the music, instead we give John his choruses!

So here we have a very broad spectrum essay that encompasses a wide variety of things – all in an attempt to answer a question concerning the decline of the Church population and how technology might act as an aid in rejuvenating the body’s mission that we have when it comes to evangelism.  We are losing the lost because we are too self focused, we will not be able to use technology as effectively we can as long as we stifle innovation to keep the old guard happy.  Ultimately we need to gut up and strengthen ourselves where we are showing weakness, cleanse the church of its idols and then take advantage of the innovative and new methods that God provides for us to use for His benefit and for the benefit of those that do not know Him.