Blended worship probably means different things to different people, but the most common use of the phrase seems to be in regards to styles of music used for worship services. The typical goal of a blended worship service is to use music from different generations to create an environment that appeals to (or provides a worship experience for) different generations. It’s basically a little something for every generation represented: some hymns, some choruses, some traditional, some contemporary…you get the idea.
I’d like to propose an ancient approach to the Blended Worship gathering. Throw out the emphasis on style. Style is important to an extent, but shouldn’t be our main focus.
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. http://read.ly/Ps22.27.ESV
Through relationships and really serving our congregations we can learn a little about them and hopefully they can learn a little bit about us and why we do what we do.
Focus on unity. Emphasize being on the same page.
It’s one thing to try and shove modern worship music down the throats of older generations that prefer a more traditional approach. It’s another thing (and a totally different thing might I add) to try and lovingly win the trust and support of those older generations by letting them in on your methods.
It’s one thing to try and shove traditional music down the throats of younger generations that prefer a more contemporary approach. It’s another thing, to aspire to mentor, coach, and lovingly disciple the younger generations to trust and respect the generations that have come before them and to connect to a much broader historical heritage that weaves all the way back through thousands of years.
We should check to make sure that our goal isn’t just to keep generations pacified. For instance, just throwing a hymn in every now and then so the older generations don’t leave is NOT what I’m talking about. And on the other side of the same coin, singing a modern chorus so the younger generations are happy is not the goal.
Our goal should be to create an environment (regardless of music style) where everyone KNOWS the who, what, and why of the elements involved.
Who: If your primary service wants to reach out in any shape, form or fashion, WHO is the target group? If everyone knows, understands, and ultimately supports reaching out to a specific target group, it’s easier to grasp the selected music style chosen. We have to communicate (intentionally) that we want to reach a certain target. Put a face on your who.
Also, if we’re working to build a multi-generational, same page, unity-driven worship expression, we need to TELL PEOPLE what that looks like. The “who” in that case is everyone. For example, we fight for family. We WANT our families to worship together. It doesn’t mean in every service, but it means that as we approach our worship environments, we look for ways to get families involved.
What: What elements can be used to create an atmosphere that influences that particular target group? Most likely music is the gateway. If ALL generations understand this and are on board with this, it’s so much easier to sacrifice preference. If your main service is trying to reach out and target young adults, the older generation needs to be invited and empowered to be part of the effort to reach them. Communicate intentionally and purposefully what methods are being used to do this.
Why: Creating a serious vision/mission statement for your music ministry can go a long way to help ALL generations understand the purpose of your worship ministry. Insider-focused? Outsider-focused? A little of both? Balanced? Young target? Old Target? In between?
One of the best things we ever did as a worship ministry was to create a “worship synergy” team. This team of young, old and in between is made up of about 6 people who represent all walks of life. It’s not a focus group. It’s a leadership team that meets periodically to dream, discuss, and prayerfully consider the philosophical issues and practical issues regarding the worship culture at our church.
The more I hear about different separate services being cranked up to cater to the different generations the more I’m saddened. I feel like with our good intentions to really create environments where people feel comfortable expressing their worship, we’re falling into a hidden trap. One that the enemy has set for us and that we’ve not seen coming. It’s a little wedge of good intentions that continues to divide generations.
I’ve gone as far at times to think that even having youth group and children’s ministries can (at times) take away from “family worship.” This is actually funny because my primary responsibility in my role at SSCC is Youth/Children worship, but at the same time I can’t help but wonder what the Church in America would look like if families worshiped more TOGETHER. Young and old. Not saying we shouldn’t have separate ministries, but I just wonder.
Blended worship to me is all about getting people on the same page. Not fragmenting our services into sub-services for the sake of pleasing people. Sure we want our congregants to express their worship fully, but if the first thought in their minds is, “This is MY favorite style of music” or “I hate this style of music” then it seems to me we’re only catering to self and not teaching sacrifice.
Blended worship shouldn’t be about the style of music primarily, but more about blending generations together into ONE SHARED HEART. ONE SHARED PURPOSE. ONE SHARED VISION.
Bringing glory and honor to God TOGETHER.
Ultimately these are just my thoughts, and are not in any way an attack on any individual “blended worship” services or “approaches” but just what I feel the Holy Spirit has dropped into my heart to wrestle with. If you’d like to join me in wrestling with and pondering these thoughts, please do.