A Move Away from a “Food Court” Model of Worship
There is a move of God across churches around our nation that is causing a shift from a “food court” model of worship to a unified style of worship. In the past, many of our churches, for well-thought-through pragmatic reasons, decided to offer two or more styles of worship, seeking to attract people who like a particular kind of music. This model is based on personal preferences.
The overall concern was that we could not draw young people with traditional styles of worship, and our older people would leave if we transition our services to a more contemporary model. The result has often been ageism, segregation and division of the body. In many cases, its implementation has severely divided the church rather than uniting it in what should be one of the most unifying practices of the church —corporate worship. In fact, biblical teaching points to us keeping the generations together in worship (1 Timothy 5:1-3, 1 Timothy 4:12, Psalm 145:4, John 17).
Many churches that have gone down this divisive road are now crying out for unity. A prevailing thought that millennials want a high production, edgy worship service has been proven wrong by current research and gives every church a more hopeful future.
Here’s what I have found. It’s important to help people understand a biblical, cultural and missional understanding of worship with people sitting around tables in discussion groups. Explore with them the difference in essentials and nonessentials in worship. Present the concept of unified, multi-generational, multi-ethnic worship to them. As people see what should be in worship and lay that beside the reality of worship in their own church, the Holy Spirit begins to work in lives to bring alignment. I have seen this occur in many churches.
I’m not condemning churches that offer several choices, but I do want all to truly examine why they are doing this and determine if it is God’s choice for them. For some, I truly believe this is the only way they can remain missional within their circumstances.
For more on unified worship, check out related articles on the blog.
I’ve been a member of a church that has practiced this and I completely agree that it further divides a church based on preference. I feel that medium ground can be reached in most instances. For example, playing an acoustic set with guitar and piano but focusing on slow contemporary praise and even adapting some well known hymns (such as How Great Thou Art) can bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary service preferences. We’ve also increased our preaching and small group discussions around ridding the body of Christ of personal preferences and refocusing ourselves on sacrificial service. It’s working so far. (fingers crossed)