This is part 3 of a four-part series on the touchstones of Contemporary Worship, and how it is differentiated from Traditional Worship. In this part, we look at the second, and I believe more important, concept, Connection, and we get to why I believe that Blended Worship is a misnomer.
Part 3: Connection
This now brings us to the second, and more important, characteristic of “contemporary” worship. It is during this time of quieter, more intimate worship that people make a connection with the Divine. It is this communion, in the fullest sense of the word, that is THE ultimate goal of worship. God did not create man just to praise Him, although that is one of the highest callings of man. God created man to live in fellowship with Him. It is in these times of spiritual intimacy that we have the fullest example of this state in this life.
It is also in these times that God the Holy Spirit performs surgery on our hearts. He comforts us, convicts of sin, calls us forward, reveals His love and sometimes even His plans for us. Most of my major life decisions have been made during or just following a time of corporate or personal worship.
One other vital function that this time of corporate worship serves is teaching new believers how to worship. It is by watching others worship, in a time of deep spiritual intimacy with the Father, that they learn how to achieve that intimacy themselves. So, all that being said, the appropriate flow within the worship time is helpful, if not vital, in bringing the congregation to make that connection with God. We’ve investigated that this flow and connection are what differentiate “contemporary” worship from “traditional” worship. So what do I mean when I say the “blended” worship is a myth?
There are teachers and leaders in the church today who are promoting blended worship. I contend that if you define “contemporary” and “traditional” worship and I have above, there is no middle ground between the two. The popular definition of “blended” worship means taking elements from each of the two forms of worship – say some Hymns and some modern choruses, or maybe adding a time of extended worship (2-3 songs) in the middle of a more traditional service.
However, any breaking of the flow negates, or at least makes more difficult, the intimate connection that is the chief goal of contemporary worship. When this flow and resulting connection are broken, the most contemporary of musical styles is still traditional worship.
This is not to say that Traditional worship does not have a place in contemporary society. Almost any religious gathering outside of a Sunday or Wednesday where the goal is not specifically worship will find an effective venue for traditional worship. This is especially true of interdenominational or para-church gatherings.
Next time we will look at some practical aspects of the Contemporary Worship service, especially with regards to choosing the songs.