Recently I have been asked about the difference in the contemporary worship and what might be called "ancient/future". I will take a couple of posts to tackle this.
There are a great number of faith communities in our area (and in the U.S.A) that "do" contemporary worship and "do it well". The flow is unique in each setting but generally it has these elements more or less in this order:
- Open with 2-4 "praise and worship" songs that are upbeat. One song must be a "slow down" song.
- What I call the opening "Salad prayer" - this is the prayer in which the worship leader prays something like, "Father God, just 'let us' give thanks to you. Father God, 'let us' be center our lives upon you and just 'let us'..."
- Community announcements given in a casual/comical way
- Stand and greet your neighbor time
- Scripture reading
- Offering (with a song sung by band at the front)
- 1-2 closing songs
This is not a "bad" order of worship, it can however feel generic. If you attend a contemporary worship Mississippi then the next week you attend contemporary worship in Washington, then they feel very similar. This sort of "removal" of uniqueness is much like tract homes. They are quick to build and they are great homes, but they all look the same. There is little room for character or local charm. Efficient yes, but not very original.
Please hear me I have nothing against tract homes they are great in that they empower many people to have a home of their own. Likewise, contemporary worship is great for many people to feel empowered to connect with a faith community. The rub is that the "creative class" and the "Millennials" are people who value uniqueness, local and grassroots more than big box, conglomerate, and generic. For instance, the Millennial lifestyle is more inclined to fuel the knitting revival than the generation before them (Gen X).
If we are interested in creating worship opportunities for these growing demographics, then why would we look to create another 'tract worship' in our area? Should we not instead look to create a local, homemade, authentic, unique worship expression for this context? What would a worship revival look like if the Millennials fueled it?
The next post will explore that question more.