encouraging a unified worship experience

A Burger King Church

"Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce...Have it Your Way!"

This was the mantra of the Burger King corporation beginning in the early 1970's. Have it your way! Basically what they were saying is "if you come to our store, we will do whatever it takes to make you happy."

Sadly, this may be the mantra of the church today. Whatever it takes to make you happy, we'll do it. Do you want a traditional service? We'll do it! Do you want a contemporary service? Sure, we'll do that! The hipper, the better! Looking for a jazz, blues, rock or southern gospel service? Not a problem!

While I wish this comparison to Burger King was my idea, it actually originated with one of my mentor friends, Dr. Michael Sharp. His comparison so intrigued me that wanted to add my thoughts to his ideas.

So, is this a bad thing? Is it bad to have multiple style worship services? Some would say, no. They would attest that the varied services bring in people and "grow the church." This sect would also say that these multiple worship styles are a benefit to the bottom-line. By doing this, they say, we attract younger folks while keeping the older people happy who typically give much of the financial support.

These arguments seem valid until we look at scripture. Acts 2:42-47 reads,

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Did you see that? "The believers were together" and it seems they enjoyed being with each other! They were not separated by style or age. They were unified as the body of Christ. What did God do? He added to their numbers.

Look also at Psalm 145:7; "One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts." According to this passage, the generations should be building into each other and encouraging each other. How can we do this if we are separated in various services?

Why then have we chosen to create various worship styles if the bible clearly leans the other way? I have three thoughts:

1. Church leadership honestly and passionately believe that they are working to better their congregation. Sadly, I believe these people are in the minority.

2. Could it be that we as worship leaders are too lazy to try and meld various styles into our worship services? It is much easier to lead a traditional or contemporary worship service than to plan out a unified service that includes varying elements. Is it difficult to learn a new hymn or find orchestrations for a praise song? Yes it is. Is it worth it? I think so.

3. Perhaps we have become so ego driven as church leadership that numbers have become our standard for success. One of the first questions we ask when meeting each other is "What size is your church?" Instead of asking about the health of the local body or the discipleship process we have in place, we usually focus on the numbers. Unfortunately in my denomination (SBC), numbers have become the standard of measurement for leadership quality.
I am not asking us to change our thought process overnight. However, I would ask that consideration be given to the possibility of bringing our people together. We have enough to be divided over without letting our laziness or egos add to that division.

What are your thoughts?

Ronnie

7 Responses »

  1. I don't think this has just begun in the modern era, although it may be more so as people are more mobile today. As you know, there was the controversy of whether believers followed Paul or Apollos in the Bible. However, this would probably work if all churches were equal and did the same thing. But as you know, people will go to a chruch that offers the style they prefer, whether that is music or preaching. Some churches offer services geared toward bikers ( i.e. First Baptist Jonesboro) that probably wouldn't feel comfortable in either a traditional or contemporary church environment. Could it be that when the church was new and under persecution there weren't that many styles to choose from. Does the Bible say that is the way we should do it, or just that that is the way they were? I don't imagine in the underground church in China, for instance, that there is that much consideration given as to whether the style is traditional or contemporary.

    • I agree totally! However, don't you believe that all of these styles can co-exist in a single worship service? I believe that if one takes the time to know the congregation (i.e. bikers, etc) then the service will evolve into one that will minister to these people without exiling others.

  2. On the other hand, when it comes to making best use of your resources, maybe one united service would be the way to go. Although, let's say you have an amazing instrumentalist in the congregation, and let's say he plays, i don't know, maybe bass guitar for instance. And he sits in the congregation for 10 years unable to use his gifts because the church only offers a traditional service where bass guitar doesn't seem appropriate, that all that is used is piano and organ. Should this individual leave this congregation and go to another where he could contribute, or would the church be better served to offer a venue where more gifts and talents could be used.

  3. Hey Ronnie: Ernestine here. While  Kyndal and I were going to Mr. Lairds funeral we saw a church sign that stated: " Tired of comtemporary?, Come try us." It had me thinking riding in this am again with Kyndal. When I mentioned that sign, she said that she saw it too yesterday. (we didnt talk much, she has "her" music plugged in her ears so she didnt have to listen to NPR.)  What I was wondering if todays comtemporary, is not tomorrows traditional? This all evolves through the ages and as more technology surfaces it is bound to be used by those keeping up with things.  A lot of the  "traditional ways" of doing business have gone away too. Those that can't keep up with what is going on, go away.  The core focus is there though, serving others, etc. Just some of the way we do those things change.  Elementary as they may be,  those are my thoughts.
    ernie      

  4. Ernie, thanks for the post! Glenn W. made a pic of that sign for me. Look for a post about it soon!

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