Division or Unity?

9:00 Traditional Service: Choir. Robes. Orchestra. Hymns. Anthems. Pulpit.
11:00 Contemporary Service: More guitars. No Choir. Fog. Cool lighting. Younger people on stage. Jeans.

Years ago I visited a church where the pastor wore a robe in the first service, a suit in the second and a casual outfit in the third. The choir sang the early service, an ensemble in the next and the stage was cleared for a band in the last service. Whew! I left wondering if that really worked or why it was necessary. In another church I noticed the pastor wore a suit and tie in all 3 blended services and there were thousands of people in attendance. Is it the look or the message? In our attempt to become everything to everyone are our choices causing division or building unity? You may have heard something like this before; “You really should go to the 11 o’clock. The worship is way better.” Or “Mostly old people go to the early service and the choir sings.” How does this unify the church? But there are others who seem quite happy with the choices.

Hear me out. I’m just asking. Recently overheard on stage: OMG we couldn’t dare be on stage without a suit and tie. They would come unglued. Who is they? I’ve also heard a few say; we won’t have a choir because that is SO old and traditional. What? Who said? Someone at a conference with a cool pair of jeans? (I like cool jeans) 🙂 Then there’s the opposite; “that” contemporary music isn’t worship. Maybe someone who refused to change anything? Come on! These ideas suggest that we have to dress a certain way or play a specific type of music to experience worship. I understand that you’re not typically going to find someone with all the Gaither homecoming video’s at a Gungor concert. But isn’t there a way to connect the two? Should we really have to split everyone up?

A few years ago a well known church tried to oust their new pastor because he decided to change the two morning services to blended rather than have a separate traditional and contemporary service. He felt by having both a traditional and contemporary service they were consciously splitting who they were with one service eventually seeming like the winner and the other the loser. Imagine an outreach to the community where music is involved. Which music team should be sent? Which pastor would you send? The one with the tie or without? By the way, you don’t suddenly become contemporary by removing your jacket and tie do you?

I recently asked this question on Facebook and Twitter. Do you think having both a traditional and contemporary service on Sunday morning builds unity or division in the church? Overall there were more than 130 responses. I was shocked by the feedback. Most people said they felt two different style services eventually causes division.

A number of people have asked where I stand on this matter. It’s tough because I’ve been to churches where this model seems to be working. Overall, I think there are creative ways to involve both traditional and contemporary styles in one service without alienating anyone. I believe that model offers opportunity to work together and also helps us become a stronger community. Anything less seems like we are more focused on ‘our feelings’ and not focused as much on being the body of Christ.

What do you think? If you’re more traditional would you be disappointed if your pastor wore a pair of jeans while he spoke? How about those of you in a contemporary service? What if this weekend during your contemporary, band driven service there was a choir? Would you be cool with that? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Does your church offer a traditional and contemporary service? Is it working well? Or, do you feel that multiple style services cause friction and/or disunity?

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