Descriptive or emotional?

by vernsanders on August 17, 2009

As a professional church musician I sometimes long for the days when what happened on Sunday mornings was worship…not “traditional,” “contemporary,” “blended,” or any other tag you can think of that happens to be in current use. I was having this conversation with a friend of mine, and he was describing some of the “new” names for worship at churches in his area: “fuel,” for instance…

And it suddenly occured to me that one of the things that distinguishes “contemporary” worship from “traditional” is the way it is described.

<interpolation for full disclosure: No matter what it may sound like, this is not a curmudgeonly rant, nor a wistful longing for what was…it is a description of a “lightbulb moment”…please don’t shoot the messenger…>

I was reading a book today that advocated “getting out in front” of a situation where there is bad news coming. The advice was, in effect, get your “spin” out first, and you establish the parameters of the playing field, so to speak. Unsaid, but implied, was that if you don’t get your spin out there first, then you can only react, and reaction is, at bottom, damage control. It is like the conundrum presented when asked the question “When did you stop beating your wife?” You simply can’t answer that question without appearing guilty.

<again, full disclosure…I’ve never beaten anyone…except at board games, cards, and in team sports…>

When “contemporary” worship came along, it was presented as hip, now, relevant, and a whole bunch of other things that implied that any other style of worship was boring, outdated, and much more. (Let’s leave out, for now, the fact that most of what was “new” was musical style, which is, a small part of the worship experience…) As I’ve discussed elsewhere, much of this was for marketing purposes, but the end result was that “traditional” churches were put into the wife beating conundrum…it became almost impossible to defend non-contemporary worship, because it was not (ta da!) contemporary. Churches with “non-contemporary” worship were in a defensive posture from the beginning of the “worship wars,” often with very little idea what the “wars” were about in the first place.

So let’s unpack “contemporary” a bit, shall we? What does “contemporary” mean, exactly? Forget what it feels like, for the moment. You can go to your dictionary for a full definition, but, in reality it just means “now.” You can see the problem. A church with traditional worship that was happening “now” could no longer describe that worship as being “now.” What’s the opposite of now? Then…and, by implication, then, being “not now” was somehow lacking.

Now understand that the people marketing “contemporary” worship (music) had no idea whether the worship in “traditional” churches was touching lives. And, to give the marketers and the consultants the benefit of the doubt, they didn’t set out to destroy traditional worship. They wanted to point out the benefits of “now” worship.

You can see where this is going, right? What are/were those benefits? Essentially the message was, “you’re going to feel better at a “contemporary” church’s worship.” Back to the condundrum/defensive posture. Suddenly, all the words being used to describe non-contemporary worship were only descriptive, and most, if not all, had negative connotations:

  • traditional
  • liturgical
  • heritage

Unpacking each of those words (compared to “fuel”) practically screams “old fashioned.”

Right at the beginning of the stylistic worship wars, “contemporary” used feeling words, while “traditional” countered with descriptives (and what is liturgical, anyway, if you’re not a worship professional?).

Back to my conversation last week. My friend said that he had been thinking for months of a word/term that could be used by churches with “non-contemporary” worship to express feeling rather than being a descriptive. He had listened to people he respected talk about it, and asked the question of them.

The closest he could come was “multi-generational.” But even he, who is not in the marketing business, recognized that multi-generational is not a marketing word. It is a long, hybrid word that may be true about a church’s worship, but doesn’t evoke an emotional response. Again…fuel…that’s a marketing word that evokes an emotional response.

Quite by (I was about to write accident, but that wouldn’t be true…I was looking for it…) coincidence, I found myself on GoDaddy the other day looking for a particular domain to see if it was available, and in the “other possibilities” listing for the domain I was seeking, I believe I’ve found a word that the “non-contemporary” church might use in the same way that a contemporary church might use fuel…


It may not be a perfect word, but it does unpack incredibly well for the historical church. It expresses an attitude, an emotion, and a potential lifestyle. I mentioned it to a friend of mine who is a marketing person in the Christian marketplace, and he immediately reacted…and the reaction was very positive.

So I’d like to know what you think…

How do you react to reverence?

Can you imagine applying the term to your “traditional” worship service(s) in a multiple service choice situation? Would it work better than the term you now use?

Do you use another term that you think is better than reverence?

Please leave a comment, and include your name, church name and address…the first ten people who leave comments will get a free one year subscription or subscription renewal to Creator magazine.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert McGee August 17, 2009 at 12:03 pm

First Baptist Church
201 E Samano
Edinburg, TX 78539

I have always had difficulty labeling worship. For me the labels we have given only truly label the musical style, not the way one approaches God. I like the word reverence as it would apply to any type musical service. It is a description of the person, or the heart, not just the musical style.

vernsanders August 17, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Thanks for the comment. I agree that labels refer to style…unfortunately labels are also convenient for everybody.

Tom Edmonds August 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm

We currently have 3 different services at our United Methodist church, which we have been calling traditional, blended, and contemporary — although we’re trying to get away from those labels.
When describing the “traditional” service, we say it’s “church like you experienced in the 1950s.” Of course, that could be a variety of styles, but in our case, it means with no congregational hymns later than the 50s, and heavy on the gospel-style hymns such as “Blessed Assurance” and “In the Garden.” A recent “favorites” survey yielded one stately hymn (Holy, Holy, Holy) and the periennial favorites Amazing Grace and It Is Well with My Soul; the rest fit into the gospel song category. I don’t think your term “reverence” really fits for this service.
Our “contemporary” service is led by a praise team that tries to use both contemporary ballad-like and up-tempo songs by newer composers; it is at the same time as our “blended” service. Although it, like the “50s-styled” service, has elements that are “reverent,” the term really doesn’t describe it either.
The blended service is one that is pretty much open to any style, although, again our congregation seems to favor the gospel music. (Indeed, we have one choir that sings gospel music exclusively!) “Reverent” doesn’t give an apt description of this one either. Instead, in our most recent literature we have used the term “Celebration” service.
While “reverent/reverence” might describe the services of some churches, it doesn’t (in its common usage) fit ours, even though portions are indeed reverent.
I think we need to keep looking for a more inclusive/relevant term. Perhaps “Christ-centered worship” might work, although that could be applied truthfully to any of the styles.
Just my 2 cents worth.

Tom Edmonds
First United Methodist Church
201 John Wesley Blvd.
Bossier City, LA 71112

vernsanders August 17, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Thanks for the comment. As I said in my original post, I’m not sure reverence is the best word, but I like it better than traditional. At one church I served, there was so much pressure to do a traditional service that we surveyed the congregation, particularly those who were the most vocal, and included everything that was asked for in a “sample” service before instituting a new service structure. The most common response? “That’s not the traditional I was [thinking of/used to].”
One other comment about your “50s” service. It occurs to me that the number of people who still remember what worship was like in the 50s is decreasing steadily. Most of those folks would be at least 70, by my calculation. Do you have younger people attending that service as well? If so, that says something about the service style, as opposed to corporate memory.


Michael Dennis August 17, 2009 at 12:40 pm

I actually LOVE the word. It evokes a lifestyle that is geared toward our triune God – humble, yet engaged and compassionate, as we walk with God (Micah 6:8). I plan on using it in our upcoming planning meeting! Praise God for a word rightly spoken! (Proverbs 25:11)

Why does “traditional” have such a negative connotation? The term is not relevant and cutting edge. It is a road to nowhere in the eyes of many in leadership. Perhaps it is the overarching reaction of that generation (Boomers) that predisposes of anything resembling authority and tradition – reactionary at its core. I also wonder if we are constantly consumed with numbers and growth so much so that we neglect the arduous task of mining the scriptures and church tradition and history to find help in addressing the needs of our culture. After all, it is so easy to order a whole fall campaign for your church, complete with great graphics and song suggestions, etc. Pre-packaged. Plastic. Cookie-cutter. Now those are words that the “contemporary” churches would not embrace.

Thank you for your thoughts,

Christ Wesleyan Church
363 Stamm Road
Milton, PA 17847

vernsanders August 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm


Thanks for your comment. I’m glad that the word reverence resonates with you. Please let me know what the reaction is.


Robert clinkenbeard August 17, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Neighborhood Bible church San Jose,CA
Wow…. Reverance is a great description of how worship should be! To add this desriptor to a music style in a church , sets not only the overall theme, but will presuppose that what is being delivered to the congregation is “reverent” I like it and am looking forward to how this will change the division between tradition and contemporary worship!
Thank you!

vernsanders August 17, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you think it is a good word. Please let us know your actual street address in order to get the complimentary subscription/renewal.


Evie Martinez August 17, 2009 at 2:00 pm

I like the word reverent. But to me, it describes HOW so many of the old hymns should be sung. It is an action word. Does calling the “traditional” service “Reverent” make the “contemporary” service, NOT reverent?
What about such hymns as, “What a Friend we have in Jesus,” or “The Church is One Foundation,” “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” or Grace Greater than Our Sin?” Those to me are teaching hymns. Could it be called a Faith service? We could sing reverently, but I think Faith describes what the service is. They hymns of old teach us about our FAITH. Standing on the Promises, More About Jesus, Day by Day, Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, Great is Thy Faithfulness and so on. Just a thought.

Evie Martinez
Worship Consultant
Missionary with OC International
710 Rosehill Lane
Lawrenceville, GA 30044

vernsanders August 17, 2009 at 3:56 pm


Thanks for the comment. I understand your train of thought, and I feel the same way: does calling a contemporary service “fuel” make it more relevant? More worshipful? As I stated in an earlier comment, we are dealing with labels, not because they are needed but because they seem to be necessary (if that makes any sense).


Susan Birge August 17, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Perhaps the term “reverence” describes what is perceived, by the “traditionalists”, as missing from our blended/contemporary services, because of the amplified, electronic, loud, upbeat music. Yes, I can see our “traditionalists” liking the term “reverence”.

Eastminster Presbyterian Church
8180 Telephone Road
Ventura, CA 93004

vernsanders August 17, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Thanks for the comment. I think you’ve hit on why I think the word will resonate with the “traditionalists” as you describe them. Let me know what the response is at your church.


Rob McFarland August 17, 2009 at 3:05 pm

I lead music and direct ensembles for what we call “blended” and “contemporary” worship. I hope that the one thing we try to do is maintain the practice that worship is the “work of the people”. We can’t judge a heart, but it’s usually not that hard to see if people are participating in a physical way in a worship service. Whether it’s reverent or not, that I think may be more in the eyes of the Beholder (who you usually have to sit quietly and listen for!) But I don’t have any good answers, just more questions…

Rob McFarland
Covenant UMC
1310 Old Spartanburg Rd.
Greer, SC 29650

vernsanders August 17, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Thanks for the comment. Questions are good, and I agree, that a worship leader who can “feel the room” generally can tell if the people are engaged in the service.


Jan McGuire August 17, 2009 at 5:17 pm

I like the word reverant. It is a word I have often used to describe the kind of “traditional” worship I prefer. I like the image it envokes of having moments of quiet reflection when one can listen for the voice of God in worship.

vernsanders August 17, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Thanks for the post. I appreciate your feedback.


Jan McGuire August 17, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Excuse the typos…I meant ‘reverent’ and ‘evokes.’ I concur with Susan…I think many of us “traditionalists” perceive more contemporary styles of worship as being less reverent than we like. It bothers me that “traditional” styled worship is considered by some to be stodgy and boring. Just as there are many variations of “contemporary” worship, there are many variations of “traditional” worship. What is “traditional” worship in my aunt’s little country church is far from what is “traditonal” in my large, more formal church, whose worship leans heavily toward liturgical. And neither is boring!

Jan McGuire
Choral lyricist
105 Bass Plantation Dr. 909
Macon, GA 31210

vernsanders August 18, 2009 at 10:22 am


My point exactly. I believe that in many (dare I say “most”?) instances, traditional is, for the people who use it, either a pejorative term, or a longing for what was once, and is now (in their mind) lost to the evolution of modern society.
Thanks for continuing the conversation. I am glad that people are seeming to resonate with reverence.


Carl Peters August 17, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Anchor Baptist Church (Lexington, Kentucky) declares herself to be “a Traditional Worship Fellowship”. This mantra has been both an attraction and a repellent. Many attracted by this mantra see the word “Tradition” as synonymous with theological depth. Those who are not so impressed by it see Anchor as trapped in the past.

We follow Dr. Robert Webbers’ ideals concerning the content, structure and style of worship. Content = The retelling and enacting of the Gospel. Structure = The Scriptural four-fold pattern of gathering, Word, Table/response, and sending forth. The style of worship, according to Dr. Webber, should be contextual. Anchor began as a reaction to a mega church that transitioned to “contemporary” with little regard for her context. Those who broke away formed Anchor. Most of our folks would relate to “reverence” as a good way to describe their posture for worship.

My sense is that a reverent approach to worship is possible regardless of musical style. Instrumentation, tempo, the tone and demeanor of the leaders, the expectations of the worshipers, the worship environment and other factors help to determine whether the worshipers will approach worship reverently or otherwise.

My question is, does relegating worship to a reverent approach (Psalm 46 – Be still and know that I am God), not preclude the possiblity of more celebratory times (Psalm 47 – O Clap your hands together all of you! Shout to God with joyful praise!) ? Depending on the season of the Church year, the point of the Scripture readings, etc. shouldn’t our worship be free enough to operate within Scriptural parameters of mood and posture? Finally, is it possible to celebrate reverently? I think it is.

vernsanders August 18, 2009 at 10:28 am

Glad to see you contribute…your blog ( always has a lot to say to me.

I’m glad that your brought up the celebratory question. It is, for me, one of the identifiers that contemporary worship claims, sometimes to the exclusion of things like reflection and lament. I do agree that one can be reverent and celebratory…I think, for instance, that the must have been some reverence involved when the Jericho walls came down…
I’d welcome some specific examples from you so that we could all learn from your experience.


Mark Bowers August 18, 2009 at 7:09 am

I looked up the term reverence on an internet dictionary. (What a shame that we don’t use the actual book anymore, but just look things up online…but that’s another soapbox.) Here is what I found…

rev⋅er⋅ence  /ˈrɛvərəns, ˈrɛvrəns/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [rev-er-uhns, rev-ruhns] Show IPA noun, verb, -enced, -enc⋅ing.
Use reverence in a Sentence
–noun 1. a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration.
2. the outward manifestation of this feeling: to pay reverence.
3. a gesture indicative of deep respect; an obeisance, bow, or curtsy.
4. the state of being revered.
5. (initial capital letter) a title used in addressing or mentioning a member of the clergy (usually prec. by your or his).

–verb (used with object) 6. to regard or treat with reverence; venerate: One should reverence God and His laws.

It reminded me of a quote which I share with you…”The message of this book does not grow out of these times but it is appropriate to them. It is called forth by a condition which has existed in the Church for some years and is steadily growing worse. I refer to the loss of the concept of majesty from the popular religious mind. The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men. This she has done, not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge; and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic…With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religioius awe and consciousness of the divine Presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence. Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, ‘Be still and know that I am God,’ mean next to nothing the self-confident, bustling worship in this middle period of the twentieth century.”

This quote was written by A. W. Tozer in the preface of his book, “The Knowledge of the Holy,” copyright 1961 by Aiden Wilson Tozer. It was written before the contemporary music/traditional music “worship wars” as we have come to know them. By the way, this book is about the attributes of God. He has nothing to say anywhere in it about the styles of worship. But Tozer hits on a valuable point…you can lose a sense of awe and majesty (reverence, if you will) regardless of musical styles used in worship. Indeed you can become “irreverent” regardless of musical style. Musical style is no longer an issue with me. Oh, it may be for some in my church, but it’s not for me. The issue for me is one of whether I have planned worship that will create the possibility that my people can truly encounter God with that holy sense of awe of which Tozer speaks. I am teaching my folks, you can sing all of the songs and pray along with all of the prayers and read all of the scripture and listen intently to the sermon and still never worship. Worship doesn’t happen in worship centers or sanctuaries, it happens in hearts.

vernsanders August 18, 2009 at 10:32 am

Thanks for your comments. I found the quote to be powerful, and I agree wholeheartedly with your last sentences.
And…(here it comes, for those who have been around me for any length of time…) I firmly believe in local solutions for local situations. You and Carl (see above) are great examples of the “we don’t need to follow the cookie cutter approach to have meaningful worship” model.


Marcia McFee August 18, 2009 at 7:40 am

Vern — very interesting but I think the word “reverent” is too much a descriptor that, given to a particular expression of worship, will create an “either this or that” (this is reverent, that is not) that continues to hide the complexity of what draws people to various “styles” (if we must use that word) of worship. I actually like the current trend of giving worship services Proper Names rather than descriptors and then letting a by-line or description further communicate what the service is like. Many churches I’ve worked with now have worship services called things like “The Gathering” “Abundance” “The Bridge”, etc. So a church with two services called “Reverence” and “Fuel” could work nicely – although I would assume that “Reverence” would denote a Taize-type experience rather than a truly traditional expression that would be full of drama and excitement as much as contemplative and somber moments (see… as descriptors it just doesn’t work for me). Anyway, my two cents worth :) And BTW… your facebook message said the first 20 (not 10) people would get a gift :) Keep up the good work!

vernsanders August 18, 2009 at 10:36 am

Thanks for adding your voice and your experience to the conversation. I appreciate what you’ve written.
I agree that my sense was to use the word as a “name” for a church’s worship service…my point, in part, was to move the descriptive away from what has become, for many, a negative term, into a place that evokes resonance. I would be interested in going to both services–fuel and reverence–at a church, just to see how they fed me. I think for many, going to a “traditional” service helps to opt-out rather than opt-in.


LauraLee@Selah August 18, 2009 at 8:27 am

I love the word “reverence.” It is missing in our culture. But the only thing I’m hesitant about in terms of using it as a label is that all worship should be reverent, no matter the style of music. Worship and music are not one in the same, as I consider communion, the offering, prayer and so forth part of the worship experience. I like to encourage people to come to church worshipping, rather than “to worship.” That way, no matter the style of music, God can be glorified and hearts can be fed.

I do so resonate with your thinking on this, and I know it is such a difficult issue to sort through inside the walls of the church. I love the way that Colossians 3:16 puts it: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

I would love to see churches getting away from the labels and just encouraging people to have a worshipful and thankful heart toward God (and of course, reverent no matter the style)…(it’s what’s in the heart that matters anyway). But again, tangibly difficult to do, when so many people have a preference in style. (sigh) :)

Great post. MUCH to chew on…

vernsanders August 18, 2009 at 10:43 am

Thanks for your comment. What you describe is one of the issues that the church in general, and the “traditional” church specifically is facing…not necessarily of their own doing, but because society has found it easier to choose based upon labels.
I remember having a conversation with a group of fellow church musicians (including my fellow Monday Morning Email writer Doug Lawrence) almost 20 years ago, in which I made what was considered, at the time, to be a somewhat heretical statement:

” I can see churches becoming like multiplex theaters…multiple venues of differing sizes sharing a common lobby. People who attend, if they can’t get a seat (ticket?) to their favorite worship theater, will pick something else because they are already there.”

The concept has huge logistical implications (parking, for one), but isn’t that what some of the mega churches are now essentially doing?


Patti Drennan August 18, 2009 at 4:02 pm

“Reverent” is truly a nice descriptive word, but will the “contemporary” folks in our other service feel their music is “irreverent?”

Just a thought.. Let’s all strive in making GOOD music!!

vernsanders August 18, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Thanks for the comment. I think Michael, Carl, Mark, Marcia, and LauraLee’s comments all address your question at some level. And I couldn’t agree more: our musical offerings should be “first fruits” not leftovers…


Christine Branigan August 20, 2009 at 9:03 am

How interesting that you picked up on the word reverence when just this morning I received an email from Lifeway Worship. According to this email, Lifeway Worship is hosting a debate called Worship: Reverence vs Relevance ( The video trailer shows all these words such as age group, hymns, screens, videos, etc. then ends with “Are we asking the wrong questions?”. This could be interesting.

vernsanders August 20, 2009 at 9:46 am

Thanks for the comment. It is an interesting coincidence. Patrick Watts of Lifeway sent me a message that said “great minds think alike…”
I didn’t know they were doing anything, and they didn’t talk with me…(not that they should have…I’m just saying…)
I do know, as you can see from the comments, that there is considerable resonance with the term reverence. I’m just happy to be of help in some way…


Dan McGowan August 20, 2009 at 2:42 pm

I am long past worrying or pondering the “worship wars.” The “issues” will never be resolved until that day when those in leadership (pastors, worship and music directors, church musicians, etc.) finally come to the realization that “worship” is NOT about HOW, but WHO.

In the meantime, I like to utilize both “contemporary” and “traditional” – and call it – “conditional.”

= =

Dan McGowan is a Christian comic, based in Denver, who tells jokes to people who like to laugh.

vernsanders August 21, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Thanks for the post, Dan. My current word is “trademporary.”



Mark Andrew Pope August 20, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Well, I think that naming services is an interesting phenomenon. And, I almost feel that those naming “emotion driven” descriptors are more designed with a “contemporary” mind in mind. My experience is that those who prefer a service grounded more in symbols and songs that harken back to “tradition” also probably prefer that their services not be named with anything that draws too much of an emotional response. Conventionally, “traditional” services tend to focus more on spirituality evoking an emotional response, not the other way around (in my experience).

I think it is a good idea for churches that want to immediately communicate their “vibe”, style or feeling to name their services. I think that it will tend to attract and invite those who worship best in those sorts of experiences.

That’s what it is all about, after all, right? Allowing people to find the environment that best allows them to express their personal gratitude and worship of God is why we do all of this… Isn’t it?

vernsanders August 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm


Thanks for the post. I agree with you…and wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to label things at all? I often think that our obsession with labels is a function of our needing to “quantify” something that, in this case, is larger than we can grasp…


Janice Timm August 25, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Great conversation – I am in a little late for various reasons…
Here in NZ at St Barnabas Anglican, our two simultaneous services on Sunday mornings are called “lifestreams” and “10 o’clock Church” – church is just where it says, in the church. The lifestreams service is in the “hall.” Lifestreams has its own logo and subtitle “for thirsty people” – and uses music that suits the combo of kbd, drums, guitars, and sax/clarinet/flute, along with miked singers. (In the US, most people would say contemporary, but honestly, I find the selection of music here much more thoughtful and content-rich than many US churches I have attended.) The “church” service uses the pipe organ and occasionally piano – but the choir usually sings at Evensong on Sundays nights.

When the staff describe the services – they generally say that everyone is welcome at all services, but the style of lifestreams is a bit noisier and “rowdier” because that’s where most of the families with younger children go. the church service has a few children – very well behaved. Without details, i will also say that there are several other worship services during the week as well as 2 on Sunday nights, and each one has a slightly different congregation attending.

So I guess my point is that the styles of our worship services are sensitive to the constituency – but ever mindful of the Anglican liturgy so that the CONTENT is always very rich.

And our 10 o’clock “church” congregation would very much respond to the word reverence (whether quiet and meditative or the organ is molto blasto).

vernsanders September 16, 2009 at 9:46 am


thanks for the post…when I worked in an Anglican cathedral in Saskatchewan (that’s in Canada, for those of you who are geographically challenged), I remember having a conversation with the then Dean (he went on to become the Primate, but that’s another story). It went something like this (I’m admitting my then ignorance of the Anglican tradition, and then arrogance of being young and knowing everything here…be gentle with me…):
Me: I see you do a Wednesday morning service at 6am. How many people attend that service?
the Dean: Mrs. McNamara and I.
Me: Why do you keep offering that service? It seems like you could cancel it and save yourself a lot of hassle when essentially nobody shows up.
the Dean: God shows up…



Jerry Fleming September 1, 2009 at 9:04 am

As a Minister of Music/Senior Adults, you can imagine that I deal with the traditional/blended/contempoary issues often. And usually I think it is a matter of style in worship and what an individual likes and deems “spiritual. We do a mix here so I guess you would call ours blended. But I have learned that name designations are like Paul Harvey once said about “liberal” and “conservative.” It depends on where YOU are. I have folks in my church (East Texas) who view Gaither’s “There’s Something About that Name” as contemporary. These same people view “Shall We Gather at the River” as traditional.

In another church we called our blended service “Classic Worthip.” It was not original with us but fit the bill in that church. I like the idea of “Reverence” but, like an earlier post, I wonder if that would offend the contemporary folks? And, besides, I have expereinced some very reverent times singing “Potter’s Hand” or “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High.” Sometimes I think the best thing to do is just call it “worship” and let the people expereince the style the first time they come. If it is not what the want (when did we get to the point that we need to give people what they WANT in worship?) they can try another worship time that does it a different way.

Frankly, dealing with this sometimes makes me want to go sell insurance. HA

vernsanders September 16, 2009 at 9:41 am

thanks for the post…don’t go sell insurance…please!
I’ve said from the beginning of this debate almost 20 years ago (we in California tend to face these issues “earlier” than the middle of the country) that the smartest thing any congregation (and staff!) can do is stick with the term worship…alas our marketing niche driven society can’t seem to accept that as an option…


sandra742 September 9, 2009 at 7:21 am

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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