Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Worship Trends 2007

Don Chapman

Over the past few weeks and months I've been pursuing one of my favorite hobbies: churching! I love to visit all types of churches to see what they're doing. Here are some things I've noticed:

- The Bible is making a comeback. Surprisingly, in two of the most cutting-edge contemporary churches I've visited lately, I've witnessed the re-introduction of real, live Bibles into their services! When the preacher begins his sermon and reads the passage, ushers rush down the aisles carrying a stack of Bibles, handing them out to whoever wants one [plus, the text was displayed on the screen.]

- No pay for play. I've noticed that some baby-boomer-led seeker churches are stopping the practice of paying professional musicians in lieu of using less-talented volunteers from their own congregations. These same churches most likely began in the 90's with the reputation of having the best band in town, but are shifting from that value to one of participation. They often lose the "pros" in the process.

I've also noticed many of the new, gen-x-led churches seem to be picking up where the baby-boomers left off, and have the standard of either paying pros or only letting those with professional abilities participate musically.

- Graphics. In the worship background arena, I'm seeing less nature scenes and more abstract images.

- It's worse than I thought. I knew some churches struggle with worship flow, but I didn't know it was really that bad. I've recently endured some of the most ill-conceived worship services ever.

For instance, I attended a mainline, staunchly traditional church that has started a contemporary service [haven't they all!] The first 15 minutes of this service (yes, 15 minutes) was spent doing Bible sword-drills with children on stage [remember that from Sunday school, where the teacher tells you to find a passage and then you race to see who can find it first?] 10 minutes into this I was so incredibly bored that I wondered why I had gotten out of bed. Follow that with a CCM song [not worship], a boring sermon filled with abstract theology, offertory and 10 minutes of announcements and I couldn't wait to get out of there.

Obviously, this contemporary service was "contemporary" because they simply substituted a band for piano/organ, and was geared for their regular church members who wanted to get a little more hip on Sunday morning. Visitors? If I was bored stiff, I doubt a seeker would return.

One more bad thing - the church had absolutely no lighting on stage. People on stage had house lights just like anyone in the congregation. I'm so used to contemporary churches with stage lighting that I forgot how important this is, and how odd things looked without it.

My uncle Hank, who worked for years with the Billy Graham organization, taught me this. He said that even simple stage lighting is necessary - when the speaker is illuminated, you subconsciously are drawn in and focused on him or her.

- Video churches. I talked about the video church movement last year...


...and it continues to gain momentum. Major churches are planting video venues. Seacoast Greenville is thriving with over 400 regulars and the network is gearing up for expansion. I visited the local Andy Stanley Catalyst franchise and was surprised to see almost 200 meeting in a local theater with heart-felt worship, great music and a relevant message that I could actually remember after I got home.

As I said in my blog last year, what's going to happen when Rick Warren decides to start a church in your town? How long do you think Bible-Sword-Drill-Church will last?

Read an archive of past articles at the paid website WorshipMax.com.

Article Source: http://www.worshipideas.com/Worship-Trends-2007.shtml

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