"Bridging the gap between faith and culture"
By Paul Cannon, Dave Lefurgey, Rolanda Ward, Lisa Zambarano
Introducing Contemporary Praise Worship in a Local Church Setting
By Dave Lefurgey
More on the Situation at Jonesville UMC
Jonesville UMC is located in a bedroom community of Albany, the capital of New York State. The Capital District has a population of more than 500,000. The population of Clifton Park is approximately 35,000. Major employment in the area is state government, technical research and development, clean manufacturing, medicine and health care, retailing and higher education.
The basic demographics of the church community are white upper-middle class, college educated, suburban mid-life families. The religious backgrounds of the constituents run the full continuum from little or no church background to Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Baptist, Pentecostal, to life-long Methodist. The needs and desires of this constituency pertaining to worship is as varied as the individuals' religious backgrounds. It is with this demographic overview in mind that one must approach the discussion on contemporary praise worship.
During the past five years, the church has slowly and steadily grown. The average attendance at weekend services in 1998 was 298, up 20 percent from five years ago. A number of these new attendees are of the "Younger Baby Boomers: (born 1955-64)" and "Older GenX'ers: (born 1965-73)," ranging in age from early 30s to early 40s (Roland 1998, p. 33). Attracting these groups is both a boon and a challenge. It is a boon in that the church wants to attract new people and to have them contribute to the life and ministry of the church, and it is a fulfilling joy to see them grow in their involvement and mature in their faith and relationship with God. It is a challenge in that these people have specific needs they expect the church to meet, needs different from the older members of the church. One of those needs is style of worship. It is amongst these people that one finds those most interested in the contemporary praise-worship format.
Although some contemporary praise-worship music has been introduced into the worship liturgy, it has not been enough for several of these families who have migrated to another local church which has a more definite contemporary praise-worship liturgy. That was the specifically stated reason for these families gave for leaving Jonesville UMC. The church is faced, then, with responding to this need for more contemporary praise-worship music in our services. This is not a burden, but a challenge, for both pastors desire to move the worship liturgy in the contemporary praise-worship direction. It is important to seek to do this in a manner that both meets the needs of the "Boomers" and "Gen-Xrs" who readily embrace this style of worship without disenfranchising those who do not so readily embrace this style of worship.