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Start up ministry

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  • Start up ministry

    I've been contacted about launching a new contemporary service for a 300-500 attendee, traditional church. If you were doing this, what would you do? Technology, processes, time-slot (Sunday)rehearsals, etc....

  • #2
    If your church follows a liturgical calendar, make the seasonal emphases the higher priority over the CCLI Top 200. Furthermore, if this is a new development, focus on songs that serve as a bridge between the traditional and the contemporary; the updated hymns, those songs that add a refrain after a series of repetitious stanzas.

    Furthermore, craft your own updated hymn by combining the stanzas of a not-yet-updated hymn with the chorus of a familiar praise song, albeit one in the same key, tempo and time signature, but also complements the text.

    Advent is coming up, so I would focus on the Advent songs the church is already familiar with, and find Scripture chorus complements that fit the theme. When building a repertoire, use the Scripture texts in the CCLI Songselect to find other like-minded songs.

    Be extremely diligent to pick those songs that fit within the doctrines of your traditional church. There are popular worship songs that have clumsy theology, as these songs are not properly vetted in the same way your denomination would. There are thousands of songs that can be used--you don't have to settle for the popular song that seems to endorse a theology outside the boundaries of your own church.

    Also, most traditional services do not have the time to invest in a 7 minute song that you would hear on the radio. Sometimes it's less than two minutes. Don't feel obligated to play the super long songs that deserve the extra time, if all you've got is two minutes. Save such songs for Communion, if your church celebrates it.

    Technology: it really depends upon the architecture of your church. If there is no room for an overhead projection, it's okay to use handouts, or to find a quality paperback songbook to invest in. Make sure you have a CCLI license.

    Rehearsals: Once you know your team, you have the luxury of getting your team the music outside of church. However you get practice in depends upon timing it so that you don't interfere with anybody else's schedules. But having them know the songs through email will go a long way.

    Does this help?
    Nick Alexander
    Host, The Prayer Meeting Podcast
    Worship that is Contemporary, Traditional, Charismatic, Contemplative, Spontaneous, based on the Church calendar, play it whenever you want.
    Find out what Nick Alexander can do for your conference, retreat or workshop.


    • #3
      Hi Nick. Yes this helps and thanks for your insight


      • #4
        Here's what I would consider if I was in your shoes-

        Make sure you and church leadership are on the same page as far as what 'contemporary service' means. Press for details- quite often, what you as a musician think of as 'contemporary' and what church leadership thinks of as 'contemporary' are as different as oil and water. Come up with a plan together- find a 'benchmark' like another church in your network or area who you see as doing it right. There's an old office adage floating around that the ultra-conservative company management has introduced Casual Fridays, but then attached so many rules to go with it (still had to wear button-down shirts and dress slacks and it basically meant you didn't have to wear a tie) that people didn't bother to participate, so management cancelled it due to 'lack of participation'. Punch line being, 'casual Friday' really wasn't casual. So make sure your leadership agrees what 'contemporary' is going to mean.

        Agree on what the switch-over looks like- is it going to be a clean break or a slow transition? Is a 'slow transition' 6 months or 2 years?

        How will the transition plan be communicated? Is there a plan in place to prepare people for it had give them a chance to be part of the transition, or will it get a one-liner pass in the bulletin and then "surprise!"

        Will the church leadership have your back? This one is a land-mine. Many people have been down this road only to find when it doesn't go well and the muck hits the fan, you're the only one in front of it-you turn around and the ones that you are counting on to back you up are nowhere to be found. It goes bad, the blame ultimately falls on you and you are strongarmed out of your position as WL. Not to scare you or be negative, but it's an all-too-common occurrence.

        The most important questions- why are you doing this and how will you measure success? If this is an attempt to try to correct a problem caused by an underlying cultural issue (church politics, power struggles, factions, etc.) it will never succeed. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

        You won't have all the answers- but make sure you protect yourself from catching all the blame if it goes wrong.

        Not trying to be negative, just trying to be realistic. Hope it goes well
        If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.