The debate between traditional and contemporary worship music has raged for decades. Some churches have embraced new styles of worship music, while others have held firmly to the old way. It’s important for church leaders to recognize that there is a healthy balance between the two styles and both can and should be present in church services. Remember, the Psalms speak often about “singing a new song” (Psalm 98:1, for instance.)
The team here at Worshipflow believes it is important to find ways to bring both traditional and contemporary music into our services. We need to draw from both styles in order to create an atmosphere of reverence and celebration. When done correctly, traditional hymns can inspire deep spiritual reflection and engagement with God’s Word; while at the same time contemporary songs can bring God’s presence into our lives in a fresh, relevant way.
When building a service plan, think about what type of music will best fit each part of the service. If you are planning on using traditional hymns, choose ones that are relevant to the sermon or theme of the day. You might want to place hymns in strategic parts of your service like a call to worship, then follow it with a praise set of contemporary songs. Other good spots for hymns are right before the message and as benedictions.
Another thing to consider is how to introduce new songs into your services without alienating people who may feel uncomfortable with unfamiliar styles of music. Introduce new songs by giving some context. Explain why the song was chosen, what themes it contains, and how it relates to the sermon topic. This will help people understand the song and make them more likely to engage with it.
Finally, it’s important to recognize that different generations prefer different types of music. While one group may be more comfortable singing traditional hymns, another group may enjoy listening to more modern worship songs. Do an honest assessment of your congregation – would the majority of your people engage with the latest Bethel Worship song or classic choruses? Of course, we’ll want to nudge people into new directions but an assessment will give a you a great stylistic place to start.
Bottom Line: As church leaders, it is our job to ensure that all people feel welcomed into our services regardless of their musical preferences. The secret to bringing balance between traditional and contemporary music is to create a mix of both styles in a way that appeals to all members of the congregation.