Why do some churches decide to go with separate “traditional” and “contemporary” services? Is it for the purpose of helping their members worship better within their “cultural context”? Or, is it for the purpose of minimizing complaints about the music used in worship? I believe both reasons are wrong. In fact, I would encourage any church to revisit the idea of separate traditional and contemporary worship services, and consider how this effort to cater to diverse tastes in music is actually dividing their congregation.
A Segregated Congregation?
Many churches are striving toward racial unity and diversity through blending worship styles and music for their Sunday services. It’s been a beautiful experience for my family to have served and worshiped in a number of churches that have been striving toward this goal. No church that I know of would ever tolerate the idea of separate black and white worship services, due to differing worship styles! Not only would it be offensive, divisive and destructive, it would also prevent that particular church from being a witness of the Gospel, by demonstrating the love, grace and diversity of Christ’s body. Yet…
I believe, we’re creating a similar division within our congregations by implementing separate traditional and contemporary services.
By providing services that cater to particular worship styles, a church is telling their congregation that they don’t have to struggle with differences. “Don’t like the music? Don’t worry about working through the differences. We’ll provide a way out of the struggle” “Does it bother you to sing traditional hymns? We’ll help with that by providing another service. Therefore, you can stay at our church, but you don’t have to worship with those people.” To be fair, I don’t believe this is the intent of our church leaders. However, too many times the fear of losing members leads pastors and worship leaders to seek more pacifying solutions in order to keep the peace.
Pursue Unity as the Solution
Before moving toward two different and separate styles of worship service, why not challenge the congregation to work together, to discuss the differences in a Sunday School class, or series of meetings? What’s more biblically appealing, a congregation with members of all ages, cultures and races worshiping together, or a church that separates its worship services according to style? Pursue unity!