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How Do You Label Your Worship?

If I were to ask you “what type of worship service do you have at your church?”, what would you say? I ask that to worship leaders and pastors often – and often get the same response: “We have a ‘Contemporary’ service.” What may surprise you is the fallacy in that label – and how many well-intentioned churches who use that word even in the appropriate context may be driving away potential visitors by its use.

First, to understand the nature of the word – we seek out it’s definition. Merriam-Webster defines “Contemporary” as follows:

Contemporary: happening, existing, living, or coming into being during the same period of time

As it applies to music or art – “contemporary” would denote something…a musical piece, song, lyric, that was created during this current period of time. Yet somehow, we have learned to attribute the word “contemporary” with any song that is not a traditional hymn or with services that involve any instrumentation more than a piano and an organ. We consider songs such as “Open The Eyes Of My Heart” (a GREAT song, for the record…one that I led this past Sunday) as “contemporary” when that song in particular is over a decade old!

So the appropriate answer would be to call a worship service where new songs from 2011-2012 a “Contemporary” service, right? By definition…yes. By what has become the precedent…absolutely not, in my opinion.

There has now become such a stigma with words like “contemporary” that the mere mention of “contemporary” on a website, church sign, bulletin, flyer, etc is enough to cause many would-be visitors to pass by a church who may be looking for service with music relevant to current music. At the same time – someone who seeks more of a traditional/Vineyard-type hybrid that most “contemporaries” are perfect for may be scared away at the notion that “contemporary” may be a “rock-and-roll” church.

So what is my solution for labeling your worship service? My best observation and best practice is to have your worship team along with the church leadership to come together and discuss how to best describe the worship without looking for a direct name to call it. Find the adjectives that best describe the feel and sound. These descriptors do far better at telling a guest what to expect than a generic and poorly defined “contemporary” label does any day.

I can invite you to my house to have an 8 ounce rib-eye all day long – but I’m sure you’ll get there a little faster when I describe the choice cut of all-day marinated rib-eye with the perfect amount of marble in it cooked so perfectly that it melts like butter in your mouth. The descriptors tell you exaclty what you are getting.

The same goes for describing worship on your website. If possible, put together a video clip of some select songs from your worship team. There’s no better way for a potential visitor to know what to expect from worship than to hear fro themselves!

With that said – what “labels” do you use for YOUR worship service? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!