Is 'Contemporary' Worship out of date?

You know what I’m talking about. Stages upstaging altars, “praise leaders” replacing ministers, bands in the front instead of organs in the back, etc. The Contemporary Worship, or ‘CoWo,’ movement has sparked a pan-denominational debate in just about every Christian denomination over the past few decades.

Supporters say its necessary to get young people interested in the church, while detractors point out its apparent lack of substance and alienation of those who “don’t rock.”

So is CoWo effective in bringing people to church? At what cost? And on a deeper level, does how we worship affect how we believe (Lex orandi, lex credendi and all that)?

I came across an article which raises some great critical points. I’d love to read your thoughts!

I grew up listening to contemporary Christian music. I’ve still got the Michael W. Smith cassette tapes to prove it. For a Baptist homeschooler, there was really no other option, it seemed. Our church was also contemporary, but in the late 80s and early 90s, that meant we sang little choruses, a few early CCM songs (think Keith Green, Maranatha, that sort of thing) and some gospel hymn medleys, not the stuff we heard on the radio. That’s not the case anymore. While there may not be complete overlap, there is virtually no difference between “church” music and “radio” music.

I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

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These issues used to come up when I was a Baptist about ‘contemporary’ worship.
We have a church in our town called ‘The Rock’. One of their young members bragged about their ‘million dollar sound system’. To which I replied, “Oh…so God can hear you better with a million dollar sound system than just a plain old piano?” Snarky, I agree. But young people are attracted to flash and emotional music. It puts them on a ‘spiritual high’ that is very superficial.
Right before I came back to the Catholic Church we were attending a CMA church with contemporary worship.
Bored the living tar out of me.
Years ago it would have excited me, but at middle-aged? No.
Contemporary worship goes out of date when these kids mature and realize its not about the goosebumps I get.
In fact, its not about me, at all.

This is one thing we can agree on. Outside extraordinary services or occasional interfaith services, for regular worship I too prefer a more reverential and liturgical mass/service that stays more or less the same week to week save for changes in the readings, sermon/homily, and of course allowances for the liturgical calendar. I’ve attended a few more contemporary services over the years both Baptist and Non-Dom and I came away from all of them not feeling like I’d been to church so much as I’d been to a rock concert/seminar. I’d compare it to going to a Christian rock concert I attended on time. The reactions are often very similar despite the fact one place is simply a concert of somewhat Christian sounding rock music and the other is a designated place of worship.

As a recent college graduate (early twenties), while I admit many of my peers like contemporary worship… Honestly in my experience I feel like middle aged folks like it more than we do. Not just talking about Catholics. My significant other’s family attends a Protestant church with primarily contemporary worship, and nearly the whole congregation is elderly, middle aged, or young children. Their youth program is absolutely tiny.

I’ll admit a lot of college campus kids go for that stuff but I’ve known plenty who prefer the quieter, more old-school stuff. And if we’re being honest, the music genre of “Contemporary Christian Rock” is barely contemporary anymore. If it’s meant to attract young people by sounding like popular music then all the church praise bands need to turn on the radio and listen to what my age group actually likes. It doesn’t sound anything like what you hear in contemporary churches.

I’m still waiting on Christian techno-pop worship. Or hip hop Masses - the back-and-forth of old Run DMC or Beastie Boys songs is exactly what the verse/response structure of liturgy needs in this modern world. :stuck_out_tongue:

We can only hope. I’m just talking about the music: a “contemporary” music service is worse than drinking a latte during Mass, IMHO.


All my life, I have felt this is a HUGE advantage Catholics have over Protestants, the music. But to be honest contemporary Catholic Masses can get pretty “mellow” and “contemporary.” How this stuff is spiritual or inspiring is beyond me - I cannot speak to what they are trying to achieve - I have never known - the effect is pretty much the opposite. When I stumble into it, I just kind steel myself against it and think on other things.

All forms of contemporary music do not give God the Holy respect He so rightfully deserves instead it leads to an emotional response based Faith that when tested by suffering leads to abandonment of the Faith.

IMHO, I’m starting to find them to be more and more common place. The church that I grew up in is/was very low key, when we sang they were standard hymns (sometimes piano, sometimes not), we had the same schedule week to week, etc.

Now that I’ve moved, I’m having a hard time finding a church that I’m welcomed at (outside of ELCA) that isn’t contemporary. TBH, from my point of view it’s kind of frustrating.

Noticed that too? All of the Catholic Churches that were in my area last time I visited them were very much featuring more modern music and instruments as part of the service. It got so bad back where I used to live that the choir at my cradle church had been disbanded a number of years back when they got a new pastor. Many of the non-Catholic Churches that I’ve been to as a visitor in one form or another all seem to feature the same. The worst offender I’ve seen being the so called “Mega Church” in town.

My current church however features beautiful choal/organ music if I choose to go to the later Sunday English mass. The early morning service, which is my favorite, is simple and spoken. Both are very reverent, even if “invalid” from a Catholic perspective seeing as they’re ECUSA services.

Clearly, you’ve never heard a high church Lutheran congregation singing loud, boisterous, Lutheran hymns! :smiley:

But really. I’ll brag for a minute. Some Lutherans composers:
*]Luther himself (not half bad)
*]Michael Praetorius
*]Samuel Scheidt
*]Heinrich Schütz
*]J.S. Bach (and his sons!)
*]Max Reger
*]Felix Mendelssohn
*]Johann Pachelbel

I don’t care for them. It was a major turn off at various churches I visited prior to converting to Catholicism. In fact one of the things that spoke to me at the first Mass I attended was the use of actual hymnals. Of course that wasn’t the only reason or even the major reason I converted but it did indicate to me the amazing tradition of the Catholic Church.

Whatever. :wink: You’re just lucky Luther was a German, that is all. :smiley:

I personally don’t think of it as “bad” or as “offenders”. It’s just not my cup of tea, so it has made it hard to find a church I’m really welcome at in the area, and that my wife will actually attend with me.

Oh I’m not saying it’s inherently bad, just not my cup of tea either. I don’t feel the Lord’s presence nearly a well when someone is playing a moderately well played guitar and singing what amounts to Christian themed alternative rock or pop type songs.

It does obviously work for some people or so many churches wouldn’t do it. And personally I’ve seen many people who are very moved by such music and feel the Lord strongest that way. To each their own I say, but they can also keep it :wink:

Let’s hope so.

Just judging by this thread - makes you wonder if anybody likes it. I don’t think I know a single person who does, never have.


I like both traditional and contemporary

Keep the faith FollowChrist , Starwars :slight_smile:

The fundamental Baptist churches I attended were very anti-contemporary worship. But other Churches I attended were filled with music, enthusiasm and other manifestations of the Holy Spirit. It’s believed by these churches that to hinder the Holy Spirit creates dead worship, going through the motions with no power behind it. Its believed that the music is a very important part of this type of worship. It creates the right atmosphere for the Spirit to move.
That is what they believe. Me? I’m not so sure. :wink:

Yes, I know who likes them. Some “ministers” of music, who fancy their offerings of contemporary liturgy as being superior to centuries of work, and some pastors, who feel the need to rewrite the Order of Corporate Confession :eek: (or exclude it entirely :bigyikes:), as well as other parts of the mass. Such arrogance.


I don’t like the contemporary Christian music, but if the essential elements of the Divine Service are there: invocation, confession/Holy Absolution, scripture, The Lord’s Supper, Benediction, then it is the Divine Service.


I love black gospel, soul, popular hymns (Amazing Grace), etc.

When I say “contemporary” I mean acoustic guitars or Christian rock or pop. Easy listening stuff.

I love Gregorian chant, anything traditional (including a cappella) - as in pre20th century. But again I find modern gospel very inspiring.
This is fine - I love it. This could be modern by some standards for all I know.

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