Much has developed in the various worship styles among evangelical Christians over the last 35 years. Some have even given the title of Worship Wars to the discord that has troubled many congregations in the throws of altering their traditional style of worship.
Some churches have taken great pains to be inclusive of all expressions of worship, some simply offer a buffet schedule of specific worship experiences available, desiring not to mix and mingle, but rather multiply their worship hours.
The entire experience has called many worshippers and not a few churches to completely evaluate why they worship in the manner they have grown accustomed through the years. Some have even been alert enough to ask if it makes a difference not only to the worship participants, but to God Himself.
Is There An Acceptable Platform For Evaluation of Worship Styles?
Some adherents believe that the very act of worship is left to the individual even when the individual elects to worship with others. There are many traditions among evangelicals and with the variety, there comes some distinctions worth recognizing.
The HIGH CHURCH tradition seems to be most akin to the Anglican or Catholic heritage, though protestant and evangelical they may be.
This tradition sees a very stately and orderly progression of worship, often with a liturgy and often guided by a common Christian calendar of observance. There are majestic buildings, lofty and massive organs, chancel leadership, ornate symbols, rituals to observe, and contemplative sequences greatly guided by worship leaders and orders of worship, much to the appreciation of the full assembly over the individual.
The CONTEMPORARY CHURCH sets its freedom at a distance from and in comparison to the HIGH CHURCH. Often led by a praise band with strong instrumentality of strings, drums, cymbals, and keyboards. The congregation is invited to participation and encouraged toward individual expression. The act of congregating is set at a second place to individual and intimate worship through long periods of standing, clapping, engagement and encouragement toward each other in the celebration of worship.
The TRADITIONAL CHURCH is a ill-named as the CONTEMPORARY, having been given a name that should change with time and dominance, regardless of the distinctive portrayed. That is to say, what is contemporary today will become traditional tomorrow if the manner and method of the worship is of greater importance than the message of worship.
The TRADITIONAL CHURCH is expected to be bound by heritage and more akin to the HIGH CHURCH than the CONTEMPORARY CHURCH. But, isn’t it possible over time to be traditionally High Church or traditionally Contemporary Church?
Even so, the TRADITIONAL CHURCH seems to be characterized as group rather than individual, addressing God in message and song in the third person (He) and strictly cadenced by piano and organ, with opened hymnals and group directed leadership from a centralized pulpit and choir loft.
We’re going to look at each of these styles of worship and offer a comparison of the three for the sake of evaluation.