Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Is a blended worship service right for your church?

After a few decades of worship wars I hesitate to post this, but I will anyway! As one who has spent the past 14 visiting numerous churches in my role as a judicatory leader I have experienced some wonderful worship services and some that were not so good. Some of the latter often included an attempt in a smaller church to offer a blended worship service. No doubt, they were trying to satisfy the needs of their older members with an attempt to reach out to younger people, but the end result was often disappointing.

I recently worshiped in a smaller church that began the service singing a couple of hymns from the hymnbook. Later they switched to some contemporary songs that were projected on a wall. The first song was an older one that the people knew and sang well. The next two I had never heard before (which means nothing), but evidently neither had the congregation. The only person I could hear sing was the person on the CD they were singing to. No one said anything about learning a new song that day which would have made it a little better. The words just appeared on the wall and people were expected to sing. It really detracted from the entire worship service.

There is a medium size church I attend occasionally that does two worship services, one traditional and one contemporary. The traditional service uses a large pipe organ, has a well rehearsed choir, and offers a fairly structured service. The contemporary service features a praise band and a much less structured service. Both services are exceptionally well done, and I enjoy each of them. Rather than trying to combine the two forms of worship, they made the decision to divide them into two services and deliver each of them with excellence.

Most smaller churches do not have the resources to do that, so I understand the desire to try to appeal to a larger group of people by provided a blended service. But it won't bring the results these churches want if the service is not well done or seems disjointed. Frankly, my experience has been that most of these smaller churches do not have the talent needed to deliver a meaningful blended service. What is offered is often more likely to drive people away than to draw them in.

I know this may seem harsh to some churches, especially if they are trying hard to do a blended service, but my comments are based upon several years of working with smaller churches and seeing their efforts at a blended service not produce the results they were hoping for. As I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, focus on doing those things that you can do with excellence. Excellence builds ministries, not trying to be all things to all people.

Your church may decide to continue to offer a more traditional service. That's fine. You may decide you want to develop a contemporary service in your effort to reach new people. That's also fine. Just pick one and pour your resources and efforts into making that one worship service the best it can be. In the long run, I think you'll find this approach will produce better results than trying to blend the two formats.

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