I'm the new Worship & Music committee leader at my ELCA Lutheran church. When I first joined three years ago, and indeed up to about 6 months ago, the church was as traditional as could be. Pipe organ, adult choir, and the old favorite hymns every week. Rewind to about August; Rosy approaches me and asks if I want to help form a "praise band". Guitars (even electric), drums, bass, keyboard, everything you need to totally rock it out. We'll be using the Now The Feast liturgy (very well-known at our church, but normally played on organ) and the hymns we've done for special occasions with guitars, like Youth Sundays.

The service comes, we do our bit (including Jars of Clay's "Faith Like A Child") and I'm totally expecting the older people to clear the pews. Instead, there's applause, people standing up and dancing, and even our oldest members in wheelchairs and walkers are telling the Pastor on their way out that they wouldn't mind seeing this every Sunday.

So, long story short, I've been leading a, I guess you could call it "blended" worship on first Sundays ever since. We play contemporary instruments on a modern setting to a traditional liturgy and order of worship. On those Sundays, attendance doubles, so we're on to something.

So now (after three paragraphs) we get to the question. We want to take it further. Currently our group uses clean electric and acoustic guitars, with stompboxes being used very sparingly and very subtly (i.e. chorus). My specific question, which I've put into the more general poll question, is whether or not overdriven guitar has a place in a church service. I say yes; if we're playing a song by, say, Francesca Battistelli, and trying to cover the album version, then as long as it mixes well you can crunch your guitar a bit. Others have reservations; if the congregation hears what they perceive as distortion they'll shut down, OD's too gritty and irritating for the old folks, you can't mix it properly, etc etc. I think they have a point; the "OD" pedal currently on the guitarist's board is really more of a distortion pedal (very dirty, heavily-clipped even at low gain levels). However, he's considering one that I've play-tested and can easily get a very agreeable sound from. We ask the question because the pedal's $100 that he'd rather not spend if it won't work on basic principles.

So, in asking this question, I want to pose a more general question to those of you currently attending or leading a traditional worship; At what point does it become "too much" for your tastes? I ask you guys and not the contemporary church because you're where my church was less than a year ago; if I asked this over there I'd probably get mostly "anything goes" answers. Keep in mind, we use the guitars for service only once a month and may go with twice a month, and we also have a traditional service in the early morning, so the "guitar-led" service is regular but not the rule.