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