Often people feel that if they could just change their church’s worship style to be like the church across town or on television, the church will explode with growth.
Indeed, it is important to note that the vast majority of churches in America have traditional worship, yet the majority of churches experiencing tremendous growth are of a contemporary or blended (unified) style. Ed Stetzer, in his book Comeback Churches, says that there are some churches that have found traditional worship to be an effective approach in their community, but this is an exception, and most comeback churches (these are declining or plateaued churches that have made an incredible turnaround), are moving in a more contemporary direction.
Many of our churches are aging—declining. Many are dying and closing their doors. Some have awakened to the fact that they have refused to remain relevant in a changing world, and now are seeking God’s plan for their worship and ministries. For many, making changes in their church’s corporate worship is a vital piece of remaining a lighthouse to their communities. For others, transforming worship that has become meaningless rote with little thought or preparation is paramount to their church’s future.
While I wholeheartedly believe that a vast number of our churches do need to make adjustments to what they are doing in worship, I am afraid that too often church leaders fail to recognize that changing worship styles alone will not revive a dead church. Graham Kendrick said it very well:
It is impossible to draw rich worship from poverty-stricken hearts. Worship should develop alongside spiritual growth…but if we merely impose new styles and methods on top of a dead situation, we will end up with nothing better than a beautifully decorated coffin.
Sometimes dead worship is merely a symptom of an underlying spiritual issue. I am convinced that worship renewal will only come with spiritual renewal. If your church’s worship is dry and lifeless, the roots may go much deeper than the style of music being utilized.
I have seen traditional and contemporary churches thriving. The common factor among the churches that I have witnessed is authenticity in the worship. When the worship is authentic the style is irrelevant, but the message is certainly relevant. Authentic worship is achieved by following the direction of the Holy Spirit, not by following tradition or trend. The biggest problem getting to authentic worship is that many church members have not been educated in what worship is, or what it means. Addressing the need for education in worship is the first step, it just takes time.
Always good to hear from you. Good articulation of a basic principle. Styles of worship in itself is not a sole motivator of growing a church. A true relationship with Christ which moves through the guidance of the Holy Spirit is. We cannot within ourselves grow the church without Him. Much prayer and planning through His guidance is key!