I was on a church assessment visit just a few weeks ago and in the middle of a seemingly contemporary service, an older, white haired gentlemen walked up on the platform to give some announcements. I had an immediate gut check as I saw him reach for a microphone thinking that we were about to really take a step backward. Here is where I was surprised. His energy, his speaking manner, his dress and his conversational style were ALL immediately engaging and connected to this 30-40 something audience.
The key for this generation is relational authenticity. Rather than focusing directly on the mechanical elements of the service, i.e. drums, cool lights, ripped jeans, first do a check for these things:
- Authenticity. Get honest with yourself. Is the language coming from your platform full of cliches? Is your church a Christian subculture full of archaic language? Watch a simple video playback of your service and be brutally honest about the words you use.
- Flow. Is your worship service full of “speed bumps”? If the Main Priorities of your service are Worship, Message, Response and the Secondary Priorities are Community and Information, don’t insert Information into the middle of the path to Worship. This is just the same as having an intense conversation with a friend or spouse, and every four minutes you take a phone call.
- Instrumental Components. Thankfully, the Christian Music Culture Pendulum is actually swinging once again. You should be glad to know that modern music is not just the sound of guns blazing electric guitars and drums. The sounds of today’s modern music draw from decades ago as today’s writers and arrangers utilize more acoustic instruments and fewer of the accouterments that were associated with the massive worship culture change of the 90s and early 2000s. My church just last weekend utilized a full choir, band, 4 piece horn section, accordion and toy piano. Other times we’ll use banjo, upright bass, acoustic guitars or strings. Take a hymn with powerful lyrics and don’t speed it up. Try slowing it down, but accompany it with acoustic guitar and an accordion playing string pads. (I’m not joking about accordion)
These are just a few elements that may help you better adapt to our ever changing culture. Remember also that your church has its own unique culture. Not every adaptation will fit into that culture and only wisdom and good counsel will help you to assess that difference. Jesus promised that those who seek Him would find Him. As worship leaders, it is our calling to do just as Isaiah foretold of John, “make straight in the desert, a highway for our God”. Your worship service should do just that.
Michael Adler | Worship Arts