Some Personal Views on Outreach – Contemporary Services

One of the many conflicts in churches today is whether to offer a “contemporary” service. There as very strong advocates on both sides of this issue. But even if a church decides to take the contemporary themed service off the table there are still many other outreach tools that can be used.  Let’s not limit ourselves to just the old arguments against doing something.  Let’s investigate how other churches have been successful with other methods. Let’s not take everything off the table just because some of it is tainted.

Personally I don’t think the Lord would mind if we used some songs that were newer than 100 years old in our service. Many churches offer both types of services and they are both very Christ centered, just different. In fact the same sermons and reading are often done at both types of services.  I know many have an ingrown bias against contemporary services and that is ok. Not all churches are as open to it as others. But, don’t put down others who do not share your viewpoint on that. 

I have been to a few nontraditional services. One was very much not scripturally based. Very me oriented. It was very uncomfortable even sitting there. The other did have much of the traditional service included. I was not up on all the predefined parts then so I really don’t remember if they did A,B,C,D or just A,C,D.  All I remember is that even though I was in my 50s it was very uplifting for me. I truly felt they God was pleased with their efforts.  I was in the Catholic church when they went through this with their guitar masses. It got very vitriol at times. Embarrassingly so.

  I guess my interpretation of Scripture is different from those who think God mandated a certain order of worship. I don’t see that God is so inflexible that only A,B,C,D,E is pleasing worship to Him. And if some churches or services do A,D,E or W,X,Y,Z that somehow is not God pleasing. I have studied, but not attended Amish, Quaker, Anabaptist services and they are quite different from the one I presently attend. I have attended Baptist, Methodists, and Presbyterian services and although they are different I didn’t come away with the feeling that they were sacrilegious or less honorable than what we do.  

Back fence evangelism is important to every church’s evangelism strategy. It is great when it is successful but many treat that as the only way to do outreach. Do we need to limit ourselves to that strategy only?   It is important that we are making every attempt to bring souls to the Lord. If we limit our outreach to one strategy how many souls would have been saved if we had a second or third strategy? Will God look kindly on us if we just stick to one strategy?

 I know that the Holy Spirit softens the hardened hearts to bring people to the Lord. But I am totally convinced that God never intended that to be a solo mission for the HS.  Otherwise the great commission is a phony!  In my mind there are just too many couch potato Christians who say “that is the Holy Spirit’s job to make people Christians; I don’t have any part of that”. Yes, once the person stubbornly comes to the realization that Jesus is Lord and Savior the Word and Sacrament are all that is needed. But, I can personally tell you that just hearing the word or even taking communion does not a good Christian make.  I did both for a number of years and it meant absolutely nothing to me.  It took many weeks debating with a pastor and yes, that born-again moment to make the Word and sacrament actually mean anything to me. Yes, I could actually feel the Holy Spirit enter my life at that instant. Without that I would not be where I am today.  We cannot shun our responsibility in the conversion process of the unchristian that I am totally convinced God intended us to have.  We shouldn’t sit around and wait for the parade of people to appear at our door but many times that is what churches seem to do. After all, that is the Holy Spirits job (their words not mine). Are they country clubs or churches?

One thought on “Some Personal Views on Outreach – Contemporary Services

  1. I am totally convinced that God never intended that to be a solo mission for the HS. Otherwise the great commission is a phony!

    RJ, you Arminian! You know I agree with you!

    As to the style of worship, one of my biggest beefs with the whole debate is that all too often, people don’t bring a properly critical evaluation to either style. There are great old hymns that express deep theological truths; there are others that are frankly unscriptural, “me-centered” rot. Same for modern praise choruses. There are great old hymns that show serious musical skill in the composer; there are others that a kindergartener could have written better. Same for praise choruses. I wish we were more selective with both.

    And as for style, I hate that it has to be an either-or proposition. I have attended services where nothing newer than 150 years would ever be sung; I’ve attended others where anything over 10 years old was rejected. Both, IMHO, were impoverished.

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