Why I struggle with blended services…

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Years ago, I was asked by our fairly traditional church to start a contemporary service. We gathered a small team and made it happen, generating a fair amount of concern among the congregation. The fear was that this was simply the first step in an irreversible change – that the traditional worship services that they knew and loved would be gradually replaced. They were right, of course – in a span of 30 years, contemporary worship has spread to the point where it is likely the dominant style [at least in the US], and it doesn’t seem likely to slow down.

To navigate these changes, many churches have chosen to offer multiple options – a traditional service at 9 and a contemporary service at 11, for example. However, there is a [somewhat justified] fear that this will lead to a divided congregation. Out of these struggles, the concept of the blended service was born.

On the surface – at least on paper – the blended service looks like a win/win, offering enough tradition to make traditionalists happy, while acknowledging contemporary style. In my experience, it’s ended up being the exact opposite – a service that is impactful for no one. Part of the reason this is true is that style DOES matter. Doing a traditional hymn in a contemporary style changes it into a contemporary song. Making a contemporary song more “mellow” removes a big part of what makes it contemporary. The result is often a bland “in-between” sound that, rather than being designed to inspire, is designed to not offend…

I would suggest either choosing one style for your church and realizing you won’t please everyone, or having services with separate stylistic feels. Otherwise, you may end up with services where no one is ever satisfied – that will have a negative effect over time.

 

Don’t split your church by trying to unify it. It’s impossible to make everybody happy in worship to begin with…

Blended Services Often Make No-one Happy

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