Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Contemporary Christian Music

We've been doing a short Praise and Worship time before our traditional service this summer. We don't have a flashy worship team, its just myself, SWMBO, an acoustic guitarist, and our Minister of Music on piano. Obviously, that's not us on the right!!

We don't sound all that bad, in fact one of our older saints says she thinks I have a fantastic voice. Of course, I'm not so sure how good her hearing is. That said, we make a Joyful Noise.

We only do three songs, and our guitarist is still learning and does mostly chords, and only in certain keys. Our Music Minister tries to play all four parts on the piano, and does his darnedest to slow down even the fastest contemporary song.

However, this week, both the guitarist and the pianist are out of town on vacation. So, I get to find karaoke versions of songs to use as accompaniment. I'm sure not going to do this a Capella.

That said, we're lucky to get more than 20 people during this time, and most of them show up about 5 minutes before the main service, with the rest of the congregation showing up during the passing of the peace just before the call to worship.

Needless to say, our congregation is not all that enthused about this. I do realize that contemporary music is not for all churches, nor is it the cure-all for a church that is not growing, but anything that makes Stodgy Presbyterian a bit less stodgy helps. So we try, and we sneak in a contemporary hymn about once or twice a month, just to shake things up. The problem is, we really need a rhythm section to keep our pianist (and sometimes the guitarist) on the beat.

And so it goes ....


  1. It's great that you are trying it and persevering - and you're obviously getting a good response!

    It's too bad that people have been conditioned to think that all praise music is bad, contains bad theology, and is overly repetitive. I'll admit that I lean much towards traditional hymns, but through attending conferences I've been exposed to many contemporary hymns that contain solid Reformed theology, great melodies, etc. I'm trying to introduce them little by little, but only a couple of our musicians are open to them.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

  2. Music is not the answer. It's fun and feeds different people, but it's more than just putting a new face at the front and the same linear worship behind it. "you can put lipstick on a pig..." whoops! I need to be careful with that analogy after the last election!
    Anyway, I too am a reformed Catholic (though I still get incensed when at a family marriage, I am not invited to the table, because I have "lapsed." but that's another conversation.)

    I think too many times we try to tweak and fix our Presbyterian worship and find it doesn't work. So you are getting 20 people to come early. Are you getting new people to stay the whole time? I hope so and if you are, good for you.

    But I don't think one size fits all. Traditional Presbyterian worship meets the needs of one group. But there are other ways to worship and still be Presbyterian. Get rid of the whole linear order at a different time, invite everyone and see what happens.

    For some this will be a "contemporary worship", for others it will be Taize style, and if you are in an Rev. Eric Elnes (www.countrysidecommunity.org), UCC church in Omaha, formerly in Scottsdale, AZ - it will be filled with art and be different week to week.

    Try something completely new and see what happens. If you study change, true and lasting change, it takes 7 failures for every 3 sucesses. So that's 10 tries for 3 successes. A lot of work, but a lot of fun too!

    You just need to let your self go, let the Spirit lead and let the nay sayers say nay!

    Right on. Good luck and I hope the a Capella went well. Looking forward to reading more from another reformed Catholic.
    You can follow my blog on presbyterian.typepad.com/hereiam


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