I have been a part of different churches with three different music styles: totally traditional, totally contemporary, and blended. Some say blended worship doesn’t work, so they have two different types of worship services—one traditional and one contemporary, essentially creating two different congregations who may or may not get to know each other. I have been told there are more arguments in churches about worship styles than any other issue.
I disagree with those who say blended worship cannot work. I am a proponent for this reason: when a church’s worship style is blended it provides something for everyone. In my experience, many older people in the church want to sing only hymns and old gospel songs. Then they wonder why young people don’t want to attend their church. Many (if not most) young people listen to Christian radio and would like to sing those songs at church. I enjoy both types of music, so why does it have to be one way or the other? Why can’t it be both ways?
I have a friend who pastors a large church. The congregation consists of mixed ages, but it leans toward the younger side. The music portion of the service is led by a praise team and yes, there is contemporary music. But my friend told me he requires there to be two hymns in every service as well. I was totally impressed when I visited because everyone, both young and older, seemed to be content. No one was complaining about the worship style. There was peace.
What does it take for blended worship to work? A congregation of members who are more concerned about whether other people are being spiritually satisfied than what that person wants. If you pastor an older church, I am not suggesting you replace the piano and organ with a keyboard and immediately recruit a guitarist and drummer. But I do believe the younger crowd will sing a few hymns if the older generation will allow more contemporary music. There is more at stake here than just music preference. Older folks need to understand that, in order for a church to live on after they are gone, the younger generation must be allowed to make it their church. The future of the local church might depend on it.
Maleah Bell is a freelance editor and pastor’s wife. She and her husband make their home in Middle Tennessee.