In your efforts to revive a struggling church, the temptation is to lock in on the latest trend or someone else’s success story.  However, each situation is unique, and times are always changing.  There is no single solution that is guaranteed to work.

This is why I was concerned by the recent decision by the United Methodists to endorse ‘blended worship’ as THE solution to end flagging attendance.

The UM Portal itself noted on June 10 that some congregations were vibrant and growing by using hymns and choirs (in robes!).

I was recently in a growing Baptist congregation in upstate New York that uses hymns (piano accompaniment) – I was there for the 30-minute Wednesday night sermon.  We sang 4 or 5 hymns and an invitational.

It’s not the style of music but that the congregation participates.  In our Massachusetts church, after a couple of whole-church learning sessions, we decided on a blended service that started with choruses but also included hymns; that church now uses an active blend, but it is the music the congregation can sing.

Consider the Taize movement.  The songs are almost chants, and there is no real leader in the service, except that there is a suggested program for what comes next.  There are times of public and private scripture reading, times of silence and times of singing – the accompanist decides when is the appropriate time to start & stop singing.  Taize works because those who come participate.

The worst choice is one that the congregation doesn’t participate in.  They probably won’t join in to Gregorian chants, but neither will they join a too-loud concert of unfamiliar Contemporary Christian music.

Advertisements

In every discussion about church growth and vitality, the conversation will inevitably turn to the role of music, and which style to use.  The speaker mentions a particular megachurch that started with 3 guys in a living room that also played guitar, and that brought a crowd and soon the 3 became 300 and then 3000.  The implication is that music brought and kept the crowds.

That’s really a false assumption.  There are thriving  churches with country music.  There are robust congregations that sing hymns.  There are active parishes with robes that sing chants.  Some use orchestras, some rock bands, some a piano and organ, some a CD player.  Some are a capella.

When music gets in the way

Matt Redman’s “The Heart of Worship” was written after his home church, Soul Survivor, in Watford, England, topped singing. The congregation was struggling to find meaning in the busyness, so pastor Mike Pilavachi decided to get rid of the sound system and band for a season.  “When the music fades, and all is stripped away…” was more than a good lyric.  It was how the church reconnected with the heart of worship, how the church family learned to be “producers in worship, not just consumers.”

Reconnecting the music

Eventually, Soul Survivor Church added back the music, but with purpose. The music was then to support the congregational worship, not an activity that mimicked worship.
______
Source: Crosswalk.com Song Story