People have all kinds of feelings about blended worship.
Blended worship is taking elements of traditional worship and elements of contemporary worship and incorporating them both into the worship service.
Critics of blended worship say that it equally disappoints everyone. Those who love contemporary music feel that the traditional elements are dated and irrelevant. Those who love traditional worship feel that contemporary music is only useful as entertainment.
I grew up with traditional music and for much of my life, and for a long time looked for the traditional elements of organ preludes, choir anthems, and choral responses in any church I attended.
When I went to Duke, I had a change of heart when I went to chapel services that featured all different styles preaching, music, and liturgy. I grew to appreciate all forms of worship in a new way, as a way to honor my classmates from different traditions. Loving their style of worship was a way to love them. It opened me up to a deeper connection with God, as I laid down my own self-imposed barriers.
As we welcome new families into our church, we begin our service with music that is popular today. This actually has deep roots in our Wesleyan tradition. Charles Wesley wrote lyrics, but set these hymns to popular tunes of the day. He wanted to use familiar melodies for the words he wrote, to teach the important theological concepts that he was forming with his brother John. Today, we continue to use contemporary music to engage our faith in our daily lives and experiences. At TUMC we also honor the rich tradition of hymns and incorporate them into every service.
Here is the intention of the music in our service:
Prelude - as people gather for worship, Linda's beautiful preludes help people make the transition from the world outside the church to preparing their hearts to worship God. When the service begins, it is time to set aside our cares of the day and turn our hearts toward praising and worshiping God. (Traditional element)
First song - This is a lively song, intended to celebrate the great joy of coming together for worship! We pass out shakers and scarves for people to engage in the music in whatever way they feel comfortable. Children and adults are invited to dance, move, and come out from the pews if they need more room. I didn't grow up with this type of worship and initially felt uncomfortable with it. Eventually, though, I found that my discomfort was actually a resistance to fully worshiping God. Worship was more about me than about God. I still don't move around a lot, but a little bit of embodied worship, just like embodied prayer brings me to a higher level in worship than staying in my comfort zone. (Contemporary element)
Hymn - We do a hymn every week. Everyone is welcome to pick up a hymnal and sing from those pages. Those who read music are encouraged to sing harmony or any part they choose while reading the music. We put the words up on the screen for those who don't read music and would prefer to have their hands free. (Traditional element)
Offering - The music during our offering can be an anthem, a praise song, a solo, an ensemble, or anything. If the words are up on the screen, feel free to sing along. If there are no words on the screen, this can be a time that you simply listen to the music and use it as a meditative time about how you are offering your resources and yourselves to God. Dr. Redding believes that music prepares the heart to receive the word of God. (Can be a traditional or contemporary element)
Doxology - We give thanks for all that God has given us and sing this song of praise and thanksgiving. (Traditional element)
Communion - The music during communion also serves as our closing song. This music is meant to draw people deeper into this the sacrament together as we respond to the word and to use the time to either sing along or pray and ponder about God's presence with us and our love for God and each other as a church family. (Contemporary or traditional element)
Benediction Response - Tuskawilla developed a tradition of singing the refrain of Because He Lives to close out the service. This is a time where we celebrate our joy as disciples of Jesus and our love for one another in the congregation. (Traditional element)
Postlude - Linda puts a lot of thought into the music she chooses. The postlude finishes the service in a beautiful way. Sometimes she closes out the service with bagpipes. (Traditional element)
We welcome more committed members to our Worship Team and to our Worship Choir. The Worship Team meets on the 4th Thursday at 10 am to discuss all aspects of our worship services and how we can be faithful to God in engaging our church and community in the worship of God. We are reading the book How to Worship a King, by Zach Neese. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants worship to be more fulfilling. It begins with your own heart for worship.
The Worship Choir rehearses every Wednesday at 6:30 pm. All are invited to join!
To read more about how blended worship is helping us to live into truly being the body of Christ, here are some articles:
The Three Deadly Sins of Blended Worship
Arguing the Merits of a Blended Worship Service
CCLI Top 100 + and Beyond Project