I was reading  Rich Kirkpatrick's blog post called "Contemplations & Conversations on Creative Leadership: 'Too Go....

The entire series is actually pretty good, but what really caught my attention are some of the comments he makes about "blended worship":

"One of my favorite 'old school' contemporary Christian songs is Steve Taylor’s “I Want to Be A Clone.” We homogenize rather than synergize. Like a blender creating slop, we put two independently perfect items and destroy their uniqueness. This is why “blended worship” is not as effective as ministries that choose to have services with a focus. It seems far better to have a traditional service done with excellence than to mix Steve Fee on a pipe organ or Isaac Watts with a banjo. Actually, the Isaac Watts thing sounds cool, I have to admit.

"Now, I am not against blended worship, I am just concerned about the purpose some have in neutering art in their church. If you cannot pull off modern worship to sound its best or traditional worship to sound its best why try? Why not program what you can accomplish uniquely well?

"Indigenous worship is a far better choice. We use that word in global missions, but I think for worship and creativity in the local church that it makes perfect sense. The concept is that it should be important to tell our faith community’s story. While we should not be afraid to jump on trends and movements of God’s Spirit around the world, it should be our staple to make our expressions of worship flavored and colored by the stories of God’s presence and work locally."

Perhaps this caught my attention because this is something I talk about frequently here and other places.  Don't try to do something that God didn't equip you to do.  Some churches force traditional worship styles when they don't have the musicians / vocalists to pull it off.  MANY churches try to pull off certain contemporary worship styles when they don't have the people with the skills.  The net result is a sloppy worship offering to God.

Another question that came to mind while reading this article: I know TONS of churches that do blended worship.  I don't know of a single one that I would call effective at the Great Commission.  Every single one that I can think of plateaus at a relatively small number.

Honestly, until I read this, I never actually thought that forcing blended worship might actually be a bad idea.

What are your thoughts on blended worship?
What does your church do here?
Is your church growing and adding to it's numbers?

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Some good points in that blog, but also some misunderstandings.
Blended worship doesn't necessarily mean singing classical hymns with a modern worship band or singing contemporary songs accompanied by organ and/or orchestra.
As we use the term it just means using a variety of different styles in the same service.
We might use a hymn accompanied by the organ and a classical instrument or two and then use contemporary songs accompanied by the guitar, bass, and drums. We don't use the same complement of instruments on every song.
I agree that trying to homogenize all forms of music is a bad idea, but that's not necessarily what blended worship is.

The problem with doing separate services is that it can stunt everybody's growth.
The younger set needs to understand that there's more to worship than four-chord Tomlin songs, and the older set needs to understand that God does new things in every generation.
But if people get too comfortable in worship then that can breed complacency or the feeling of "okay, this is exactly how I want worship to be; don't change a thing."

Our church had a few setbacks about a year ago, but we are growing again.
Ya, it is hard to know how exactly he is defining "blended worship". After taking some time to think about what he said, I sat down to list all of the churches that I know of that have a blended worship offering, which I define as a concrete amount of hymns to chorus ratio. I couldn't find one with >800 people in it.

I can name churches that are growing at good rates that might have a traditional and a contemporary service, but the two never meet... or if there is a hymn, it is done with some kind of contemporary arrangement, and there is no forced ratio.

It is an interesting thing to think about.
there are actually quite a few "blended Worship" churches in TX that run well over 800. Prestonwood Baptist, First Baptist Dallas, Cornerstone Baptist, Lakewood Church. some of these run congregations into the thousands. Beyond Texas, I am not sure
I've been to a couple of those. But it's no lie, everything is bigger in Texas. I just don't get it.
Hmm.. this may be a going down a bad path. There is always a danger with:

a) Trying to judging something eternal in worldly terms. I don't think I've ever judged a church solely on it's size. Growth is also a very subjective term. I don't mean that church should shrink, but not every church is a mega church. Going to a bigger church doesn't make you a better Christian or vice versa.

b) Rarely does something work for everyone and every case scenario. While part-time/volunteer firefighters may work for rural communities, big cities have entire armies of full-time fire fighters. Different needs, different priorities.

Without going down a tangent, maybe blended worship works in certain cases, but not others. I don't think I would ever come to a conclusion that blended worship, doesn't work because it doesn't happen in larger churches.

>> Don't try to do something that God didn't equip you to do.

I think you're right Corey. But that also probably imply the contra-positive, that saying blended worship works or doesn't work for any church (in a blanket statement) won't apply either. If you are equipped and so inclined, why not?
If you are equipped and so inclined, why not?
Correct. Why not?

In virtually every church that I can think of that does blended worship (there are some exceptions here), it is done to make or keep people happy. This is against Holy Scripture as our worship to God isn't about keeping people happy (Gal 1:10).

You are correct in that you can't simply judge a church by it's growth figures (though, I don't quite understand how the idea of growth is subjective. It seems pretty simple to me, growth means increase. It is true that many churches use fuzzy numbers so that they can call themselves "growing", so I suppose that practically speaking, what constitutes "growth" is made to be subjective. I would suggest that this is because we don't want to be honest with ourselves.

While there are some churches that can't grow (rural churches are going to have growth problems), most churches, especially in urban environments don't because they won't submit themselves to God, step out on faith, and do what it really takes to foster a healthy growing body. You can call this judgmental and whatever else you want, but it is the truth.

The only reason the Church declines in numbers in the USA is because we are failing to follow the Great Commission. Part of that is because we force things on our worship offering that God doesn't intend for us.
As for growth, my church is now bigger because we added a contemporary element. We didn't replace all the hymns, just half of them. To my knowledge, no one has left because of that and a new crop of folks started coming because of the contemporary part.

I don't know about some of the rest of this.

First - I'm not sure I see what you're doing with Gal 1:10. The idea of blended worship isn't to "please" people or make them happy, it's to accommodate more than one preferred style of worship and give folks something they can relate to. To me it's a great example of deference and godly tolerance.

Second: Churches grow or don't grow for various reasons. Some very apostate and wacky churches are huge. Other very sincere Godly churches remain small.

Third: I think your last paragraph is true, but of denominations. In general, the last time I heard any statistics, denominations that are evangelical and missions oriented are still growing, while others who have forsaken the Great Commission are not. But I think individual churches are up and down in a more or less random fashion and fail or survive from a variety of causes.

So with respect to blended worship, I think it's impossible to tell if it will be good or not until you try it. And it doesn't have to have any negative connotations - it could just be a way to accommodate various styles of worship into one service. Kind and loving congregations whose focus is on loving each other will find it easy to accept.
I think it all depends what blended means. If "blended" means that the songs blend together well, regardless of what the original songs' styles were, I think it works quite well. If it means that praise/worship songs are all played in hymn-style, it definitely doesn't work.
We have two Sunday morning services: 8am more traditional, 11am more contemporary. We have two separate teams that lead every other week and a choir that leads an 8am one-a-month. I tend to be equipped as a leader/musician more in the contemporary style, so when I lead at 8am it isn't purely traditional. That has been working MUCH better lately. I told those whom are my peers and those above me in leadership that if I simply use what God has given me, the experience will be better for everyone. They all agree, so, like I said, things are going great! That 8am service (100-150 people) has been SO much more responsive lately with what one may call a "blended" song time, though it is still quite mellow, which is fine.
At the 11am, we do sing the occasional hymn or 2 or old-time favorite or 2, but we "blend" it in. The 11am people (400-500 and growing rapidly) respond in a big way. I can't even hear myself sometimes, which might not be a bad thing!
We do blended worship. The praise band plays modern stuff for three songs then sits down and we have a prayer and announcements. Then we sing a couple of traditional hymns with our traditional piano player and a different leader. Both are well executed and professional. Both are well received by our congregation. I don't always enjoy the hymns portion - at times it can be verse after verse, pounded out on the piano, with antiquated words and phrasings. But I know there are others who love the hymns.

For us, hymns and modern music are "indigenous". Some can't imagine worship without hymns, others would go elsewhere if we didn't have modern songs. But all seem to accept both and we get along great.

We believe that the addition of the modern worship has brought in a new crop of members of all ages. We certainly started growing again after we added it.
Yes. We have such a diverse group! I am so glad and blessed that both/all styles we have be doing have been received sooo well.
A question on "line-crossing" songs:

There are some excellent adaptations of hymns, particularly Wesley-era ("The Wondrous Cross" / "Here Is Love" and the occasional inner-city version of a Gospel song such as "O Happy Day". In your set-up, where do you put these? Do you stretch one of the two mini-services toward the other, or keep the styles distinct? Where do the Maranatha songs go, and how do you do altar service?
It sounds like your church has adopted a very sound and considerate approach, and I'm very glad that your congregation has welcomed it.


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