Out With the Old, In With the New

At Sunset (my church home) we have two separate morning services on Sunday that are not just at different times but also have distinct stylistic differences. Most people would just call one a “blended” service of traditional and somewhat contemporary items, while is the later time is a “contemporary” service.

I use these labels more as a way for you to understand what I’m talking about, but I do understand the labels likely mean something different at each church, my church being no different.

Last Sunday in our “contemporary” service we decided to do 3 separate hymns. We planned to do those songs about a month ago. With so much transition going on at my church, I’m sure one of our factors in choosing those songs was hoping they might facilitate unity the best. As is normally the case, we did “contemporary” (can you tell I hate that word?) arrangements of 2 of the hymns which we really enjoy playing. However, the last hymn we did just straight traditional (piano driven, no frills, more vocally led).

One thing I noticed, especially on the last hymn we played (It Is Well), was very few people were singing along. If we did this in our “blended” service people would have joined in immediately but with the somewhat younger group at our “contemporary” time many were clearly not excited to be singing some hymns. I say this from my experience during the morning, but also from the many conversations I’ve had with various people who usually come at that time. Based on this I have a few thoughts:

  1. Doing contemporary music does not mean we have to throw away what some would call “traditional.”
  2. I get as bugged by the people who demand hymns as I do by the people who say we should never sing them. Neither of those mindsets is helpful to a church body.
  3. Many people care more about how we worship than who we’re worshiping. And that’s a very sad thing.

What has your experience been with integrating hymns into a contemporary environment?