written by: Keith Drury
Your piece on 50’s-60’s worshippers was superb! However in most of your writing about worship styles you show strong bias toward change, the unchurched and the next generation. I fact all over the web I can find a ton of writing on emerging worship but very little on any other style. The net message from your writing and from most others is: Get with the program and start chasing the next generation’s whims in worship. Your writing on 50’s 60’s worshippers got me thinking about how we might seriously try to reach all generations instead of only the latest whims in worship styles. So my question is this: If we offered a broad range of worship formats to meet all the needs and preferences of today’s worshippers what would the list include–what type of worship formats should we consider? –Pastor
Interesting question. I will try to summarize the formats but first I must admit that you are right in charging me with bias toward change and the emerging generation. I get the first from my boomer blood and the second from my occupation. But you are wrong about a bias toward gearing worship for the unchurched–I think seeker worship is an oxymoron. But to your question: what are the most popular formats for worship services if a church seriously tried to meet the needs and preferences of most worshippers?
If these are the basic formats most evangelicals work from in planning worship there are some immediate observations: First, few churches can seriously attempt to offer them all. Which means a church must choose which format (and thus which audiences) it will focus on. The good side of this it may raise our sights from our own local church to “the Christians in X city.” That is, perhaps each town and city needs all the worship formats for helping all kinds of people worship in their ‘native tongue.” If a church down the street is doing a slam-dunk job at cowboy worship launching a new worship service with that ethos may not be as wise and launching one for the classical music crowd (e.g. pedagogical worship). Few churches can become true shopping malls-dozens of churches under one roof. Most senior pastors can’t bear the thought of too many worship services that do not feature themselves as the preacher-thus for most churches there will be one or two of these formats that prevails. Others in town will specialize in other formats. Second, we need to be careful about assigning “generations” to each of these styles. It is true that there are general clusters by generations, but (as Leonard Sweet is now saying) generational thinking is passé. They change too fast and there is too much overlap now. Sure you can guess which generation will especially like rap or pop or classical music, but there is so much overlap we can no longer make certain generalizations. Some of the emerging worship patterns are finding great connection between generations. And many young people might be considered to be followers of “Alternative worship” patterns-whatever the masses are doing they seek something different.
But with those two thoughts in mind, the above is a general listing of the most popular formats of worship today in the church
So what formats would you add to this list? So what do you think? To suggest additional insights write to Keith@TuesdayColumn.com
©2003. Keith Drury
Keith Drury served The Wesleyan Church headquarters in Christian Education and Youth leadership for 24 years before becoming a professor of religion at Indiana Wesleyan University. He is the author of more than a dozen books of practical spirituality, including Holiness for Ordinary People, Common Ground and Ageless Faith. Keith Drury wrote the Tuesday Column for 17 years (1995-2012), and many articles can be found on his blog “Drury Writing.”
Keith Drury retired from full time teaching in 2012. Keith is married to Sharon and has two adult sons and several grandchildren. He is retired in Florida with Sharon and enjoys cycling.