To understand contemporary worship, no better place than to consult the sources used for teaching contemporary worship. I bought some textbooks from an undergrad student. Although it is “extracurricular” for me, I find it very interesting, although I am just halfway. For example:

Nine qualities of contemporary worship:

1. Worship in a language that is used outside of worship.
2. Worship service content relevant to contemporary issues in the lives of the worshippers.
3. Worship adapts to match contemporary people, sometimes targeting specific groups.
4. Musical styles match current types of popular music.
5. Extended times of uninterrupted congregational singing.
6. Musicians are central to the worship service and space.
7. Higher level of physical expressiveness.
8. A preference for informality.
9. Dependent on electronic technology.

Some alternate terms for contemporary worship:
worship” (Calvary Chapels; Vineyard) or
Praise and Worship” (Pentecostals) or
seeker-driven or seeker-sensitive” (Willow Creek).

Multimedia and multisensory changes were part of a “Reformation” of the modern church: the “Media Reformation,” which was a resurgence from the 1960s and 1970s visuals in contemporary worship. A Team-based approach to worship emerged in the 2000s to design the “Sunday experience.”

Contemporary worship connects to the worship tradition of Watchman Nee, Latter Rain, Judson Cornwall, and others.

However, the authors also indicate that (our) Reformed churches have foundational issues. For example when they mention the underlying Scripture text for contemporary worship: “I have become all things to all people” which also paved the way for the “sacramentality of praise.”

Under the “future of contemporary worship, the authors see “prominent clouds on the horizon.” (!) They mention the retro-movement of early adopters going back to the liturgy: church year, ancient liturgical texts, sacraments, and liturgical architecture. They also mention old hymns and acoustical instruments.

It is concerning when worship in Reformed churches becomes like contemporary worship, considering the origin of contemporary worship and the goals of contemporary worship. They are not compatible unless the Reformed churches change their identity.

Comments are closed.