Getting Ready for Sunday
      Home Articles Stories Books Sermons / Series Author Contact

Why We Practice Blended Worship

Unfortunately, "worship wars" are raging in congregations across America. Thousands of churches are experiencing tremendous conflict over whether to use traditional or contemporary styles of music. Thankfully, we have avoided worship wars here at First Church. However, like every church, we have diverse music preferences among our congregation. That diversity was reflected in our recent congregational survey. The survey revealed that the overwhelming majority of the congregation is extremely pleased with our worship. However, a handful of people at the 11:00 service said they disliked contemporary music, including the new choruses we've added. One person called them "little dinky ditties!" On the other hand, others in the 11:00 service said they love contemporary music, especially the new choruses, and want more of them. The same dynamic was seen at the 8:30 service. Several people requested that we sing more traditional songs, but several others requested that we sing more contemporary songs.

What's a pastor to do! Some suggest that we have two completely different services. They suggest 8:30 be all contemporary and 11:00 be all traditional. Unfortunately, that does not work. Many people at the 8:30 service want at least some traditional music. And many people at 11:00 want at least some contemporary music. Therefore, the only viable solution is blended worship. Blended worship, as the name suggests, blends both old and new, traditional and contemporary. For us that means that the 8:30 service is mostly contemporary but includes some traditional. And that means that the 11:00 service is mostly traditional but includes some contemporary. This blended approach is the only way to meet the diverse needs and preferences of our congregation and to meet the needs of those who will become part of our congregation in the future.

Of course, blended worship means that we will never please 100 percent of the people 100 percent of the time. As I joked in our fifth-Sunday service last December, "If we didn't offend you this week, come back next week and we'll try to offend you then!" It's absolutely impossible to please everybody all the time. But blended worship does please most of the people most of the time, and that's as good as it gets when it comes to music and worship.

I'm grateful to God and this congregation that we are not engaged in worship wars at First Church. Quite the opposite is true. We get constant and overwhelming affirmation about our worship services. And while a few people in our survey said they don't much care for blended worship, hundreds affirmed it. Clearly, the vast majority of our congregation is extremely pleased with our blended approach. The best indicator of how people feel about worship is worship attendance, which has dramatically increased since we implemented blended worship. In fact, worship attendance is at an all time high in the two-hundred-year history of our church.

Regardless of the music style you prefer, I have a pastoral request of every member and friend in our church. My request is that we continue to be tolerant of the diverse worship preferences represented in our congregation. Why? Because what for some is a "little dinky ditty" is for others a profound expression of worship. And what for some is a "boring old hymn" is for others a significant praise to the Almighty. So, like a family, let's continue to give and take in order to meet the wants and needs of all our members and friends, both present and future.

Thank you for your faithfulness at worship and for your enthusiastic response to our policy of blended worship. I hope to see you Sunday for the worship of God.

Print out a PDF version of this article.