1. After a lengthy discussion on contemporary worship, a woman in her seventies approached me with this question; “Why can’t these young people learn to like my music?” I responded; “Why can’t you learn to like their music?” She thought for a moment and then made a remarkably insightful reply. “The answer is the same, isn’t it?” She will never like theirs; they will never like hers.
2. Establishing an indigenous worship service, either praise or visual, is one of the most important decisions traditional churches can make. Here are some steps for starting this service.
3. The pastor must be one of the people behind the impetus for this service. If not, it is a waste of time.
4. Bring the core leadership on board throughout the process. Stress the “Win/Win” aspect of adding another service. Remind them that they will not have to attend this service if they don=t want to. Do not talk about changing or blending any of the present worship services. Talk about “adding” a service that people who do not like the service do not have to attend. Remember, that the first thing people are concerned about in times of change is “what will I have to give up.”
5. Pull together a Ministry Team to begin the service. Do not give the responsibility to an existing worship committee. Recruit indigenous leaders first. Look everywhere, especially wherever you would not think of looking.
6. Identify your target audience and design the service to address their needs. Ask some people from the target group to help design the service, not the content.
7. Visit nearby churches who have contemporary worship to get a feel for what might work in your church. Visit as many different denominations as you can. Don’t simply copy the other church. Make it your own, fit it to your talents, theology and mission.
8. Develop the core values for this service. What is the purpose of starting the new service? What do we want to accomplish with our target audience? What is non-negotiable for this service?
9. Determine the time and place for the service. The fastest growing time period in North America for worship is between 9:00 and 10:00. Start the service during this time. When you have multiple services, it is okay to have worship and Sunday School running at the same hour. Don=t worry about a worship service during the Sunday school hour hurting Sunday school attendance. It will not. In fact, it will increase overall attendance.
10. Determine where to hold the service. Avoid overly formal and cold setting. Good lighting is essential. Drama departments at school usually have someone who will be glad to help. Concert promoters are also good if you have the money.
11. Develop a trained floor team consisting of hosts and hostesses, parking lot attendants, and lay pastors/counselors situated throughout the congregation. Provide lay people to pray with anyone who responds after the service and a paid person to provide excellent child care and nursery facilities. In addition gather a core group of people from your existing service to agree to be at this service for the first six months.
12. Make sure that you have adequate leadership for whatever style of worship you intend to start. Multiple services are very hard on musicians and good technicians must be secured. Additional part-time staff may be necessary. In some cases it is unfair to ask the current staff to provide a totally different service of worship.
13. Give the experiment at least a year trial before making any evaluations. Recommend that the service be tried as a “pilot” project for 18 months.
1. One word of caution is necessary. More pastors lose their pulpit and more lay people are turned off by attempting to provide an indigenous service to unchurched or pre-Christian people born 1946 than any other form of new ministry.
2. Proceed with caution, but proceed.