We are preparing to start a contemporary worship service. Our church is a smaller/older congregation but we desire to reach out to younger people. The problem is that we do not have instrumentalists to start a band. We are looking into using videos from sites like You Tube. Does anyone know the legalities and copyright laws that apply. Or does anyone know a better way to lead singing without a band in a contemporary worship service.

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From a legality perspective - you need to have license from CCLI. And during the year, you are supposed to report your instances of using the songs. So using YouTube isn't really legal. 

Can you get one guitar player? Just one good guitar is all you need to start.

Any solo instrumentalist that can execute well would be a positive move in the right direction.

Keyboard, guitar. Anything but a banjo.

What if this church is in the back woods of Arkansas?

Washboard and kazoo. Banjo bad. Guitar good.

Well, you might want to have a brainstorming session with some people from your church.

Maybe come up with several different ideas to work with. This is what our church did.  We formed

a group of people who had a passion and interest in starting a contemporary service. Then did some

research and visited other churches and services.  A few musicians stepped forward and volunteered

to help. Set a launch date that gives them time to work on some songs, such as 3 or 4 months.

Come up with an advertising campaign to get the word out. Its not just about the music, also the time,

location and format/flow  of the service.  Our church had several false starts over the years before

everything came together in Gods time and now it is our strongest service.

I have to say, I've seen this done a bunch and I've never seen it actually work.  I know that you're seeking legal advice, but I'm going to add: if this is your answer to an outreach problem, you're probably going to be disappointed with the results.  Music is only part of any effective outreach ministry.

Honestly, I think if the Lord wanted your church to do contemporary worship, he would provide you with the talent.

I have to say that isn't very helpful, but thanks anyway.

What have you concluded at this point then?

Probably the most legal route to take is the iWorship DVD collection (I think that is what it is called).

I'm not 100% sure how the licensing works - so you'll have to talk to them.  But I THINK that you buy the DVD and you can use it continually without having to pay the annual CCLI fee.  But again, that is something that you'll have to figure out from them.


Mark, I'm going to suggest that the best first step to reaching out to younger people and opening to "non-traditional" forms of worship would be to start a Sunday evening (?), informal, home-church-type of gathering in someone's living room or an intimate and informal spot in your church.  In that scenario, two main things can happen: 1) you can find out what the actual needs and hopes of your target population are while truly getting to know them and showing them you care, 2) the less formal, less intricate, looser format will allow singing a capella or even simple choruses with acoustic guitar, and will open to more people participating by offering of themselves (because worship does not equal just singing).

You really can play huge numbers of songs with 4 basic chords.  I'd recommend you also search out very simple arrangements of a few basic favorite hymns to facilitate bonding between your new and old members.  If your heart is right and you're willing to play a little every day, you could lead the coming week's songs even as a beginner.  You could also open the door for a new member to come along side and play, which would accelerate both your musical development and your new member cultivation.

I drop the moniker "Contemporary" completely.  I've seen too many people planning similar transitions get caught up in style rather than substance and loose the true focus on worshiping God in ways that resonate with your people.

As an aside, make sure your present members buy in to your stated mission of reaching out to younger people and that you continually reinforce how the things you'll ask them to do, which are out of their musical preferences and personal comfort zones, are kingdom building and church-enriching.  I've experienced first-hand the friction that can occur when their service is "co-opted" and the familiar and cherished, subjugated.  That's another reason why I think the home-church gathering model is your best starting point.  Besides, of all the places I've lived and the churches with which I've engaged and the services I've led or been a part of leading, this particular relational model has stood out as the most genuine and ultimately successful.

Love to discuss more with you brother - message me if you'd like.  God bless you for your heart to reach out.

Thank you very much. I appreciate your advice. Our congregation so far has bought into the plan. They also voted to move the more traditional worship service earlier in the morning. My pastor is putting together a launch team that will commit to helping out for six months and we won't begin the new service until they are in place. He has done this before at another church. We aren't calling it contemporary that is just the format that we plan to use while not breaking any copyright laws. We really are looking for the best way have music for the new service. I agree with you that music is not the only way to worship. We worship when we pray. We worship when we read God's word or preach God's word and we worship when we fellowship together in God's name.


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