Posted on Fri, Apr 16, 2004
A look at a churches stand to Christian Contemporary Music
Tom Richard on
Some of it is theologically weak. Some of it is exciting and could be at the forefront of renewal in our churches. We need to be open to new forms of worship within our tradition. The mass migration of young adults, seekers, generation-xers, to alternative forms of worship will continue for some time yet, and then level off. But those churches which closed their minds and doors to different forms of worship now will be the losers later, if they wait for the leveling off to happen. Again, I worry about churches which do not seem to have the ability or passion for interpreting the gospel in light of cultural shifts. To me this is basic Christianity 101. We are in a time when a new form of worship has filled an obvious vacuum for people. Do we fight the need being expressed, or do we examine the dynamics of this religious phenomenon and engage our churches in a discussion of how to address it in worship without dumbing down the Gospel and the responsibilities of Christian life? I’ve seen some wonderful examples of churches which have a blended service of traditional and contemporary approaches, as well as ones that have separate expressions, but make a concerted effort to keep the unity of the church alive and focused.
Jan Collier, married mother of a 12-year-old daughter, describes a contemporary worship service at Cedarwood Community Church as “like opening a box of chocolates. You never know what kind of treat you’re going to find.”
Retired Army officer John Abrams says the people of the church, coming from various religious backgrounds “blend together to formulate a strong church with a variety of skills and talents.”
Newcomer Jack Kemp, a newspaper advertising salesman in his thirties, describes the service as beginning with a time of prayer led by the “Praise Singers” accompanied by CD’s or the Praise Band.
This Church uses PowerPoint just like we do..Although they have a Worship and Praise team which is something we could possibly have...
He continues: “The first two or three songs will be up tempo with the worshipers clapping with the music. The last two songs will be more worshipful. The singing will be continuous for 10 to 15 minutes with the words displayed on a big screen for the worshipers and on a monitor screen for the Praise Singers. These screen displays are computer driven. After the music there is a time for people to greet one another and welcome those visiting. A time for the children follows with a 3 - 5 minute message to them.”
Cedarwood Community Church, pastored by the Rev. Earl Crutchfield, was admitted to NACCC membership at the 2002 NACCC Annual Meeting in Spokane, Washington.
Cedarwood is located in Wetumpka, Alabama, population 6000. Wetumpka is described by Crutchfield as a “typical southern conservative town where all the churches are very traditional, mostly Southern Baptist.”
Crutchfield planted the church more than a year ago, taking an unusual tack in that he had no “core” group of people. He tells how he brought Congregationalism and contemporary worship to Baptist Land:
“We targeted the unchurched of the area with a direct mail letter announcing our Grand Opening Service. Only the unchurched who came that first Sunday stayed with us. Our worship area is in unfinished metal building, and we use padded chairs instead of pews. During our time of worship we use Praise and Worship music with the words on the big screen from a computer-driven monitor. We use the projection system for the announcements, scripture, and outline of the message. We do not have any song books, piano, organ, or choir. Instead, we use keyboards, guitar, and CD’s with a group of Praise Singers leading our worship service. We also use some drama and movie or video clips. Our worship and music are spirited with the objective of connecting with the people and providing the opportunity for them to experience God.
“We still target the unchurched and the newcomers to the area. Cedarwood has a great diversity of people, and all age groups are represented that worship with us. Other churches in our area have now started using Praise ∓mp;mp;mp; Worship music or have started new contemporary worship services using the type of multimedia technology that Cedarwood is using.
“I understand that Praise and Worship or contemporary music is not for all churches, but it can be used in some churches along with multimedia as an alternative to the traditional style of worship to attract unchurched people. We have proven at Cedarwood that you can plant a new Congregational church even without a core group of people, using modern music and multimedia even in a very small, conservative area like Wetumpka, Alabama.”