So You’re Thinking About Contemporary Worship

    -- by Tim & Kathy Carson, St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1997, 86 pages.

The husband and wife who co-authored this helpful volume offer advice on developing a worship service with a contemporary feel. They write from their experience as a pastor/church administrator team serving in Missouri. 

One of their first suggestions is, “Do not operate in a vacuum.” They recommend that a person should begin by gathering information—reading on the subject, visiting churches, asking questions, and participating in relevant workshops. 

For a shift in type of service to be successful, the congregation must develop a sense of corporate ownership and leadership, so it is key for a pastor or leader to involve the members in decision-making. They should be included in the processes of planning, thinking through implications, doing and evaluating. 

There are many options to consider: should there be one service with elements of traditional and contemporary worship blended together, or should you have two (or more) services each having its distinctive style? The authors tend towards the second option, depending on the dynamics and size of the church. They detail their experience in setting up three diverse services at their church.

For each service, the authors suggest creating six teams, composed of both leaders and laypeople. These include:

Each team functions as an independent unit, but they all come together for a “roundtable summit” as needed.

The book includes chapters on theology, community, and celebrating sacraments, and there is a good section on music, the typical “hotpoint” of contemporary worship. They encourage inclusion of Christian music from around the world in services, and the book has an Appendix that lists sources.

This volume is to the point, easy to read, and laced with humor as it considers how to introduce elements of contemporary worship (not just music) to a congregation. It is helpful for thinking through both the practical matters and the underlying issues. It is recommended for both leaders and laypeople who are interested in this topic.

    --reviewed by Paul Neeley

Published in Vol.3, No.1 of

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