Last week we looked at the definitions of contemporary and traditional and drilled down into some of the irrelevance of how the “church” has classified styles of music, worship, facilities, etc. into these 2 categories.
We ended last week with this question: “So, if traditional and contemporary are not relevant terms to describe the “style” of a church or their bent, what is? “
Here it is:
I would prefer that church leaders talk more about their church being contextual to the community they are trying to reach…to their target market…to those God has called and commissioned them to reach. Who cares what kind of music you use if that fulfills your mission? Who cares if you wear jeans or a 3-piece suite as long as those God has asked you to reach can feel part of your fellowship? Who cares if you have pews and red carpet or folding chairs and sealed concrete floors? Who rally cares if you have a steeple or are in a refurbished Walmart?
Frankly, I do not believe that God…the only one that really matters in this conversation…cares about the labels and methodologies the “church” has adopted as its self-directed, self-imposed and manmade theology, systems, methodologies, etc. Does anyone really believe that a building, musical style, dress code, seating preference, service times, etc. are ever going to save a soul. I sure hope note. If anyone actually believes that, then we have much more significant issues to address.
This leads us back to an earlier conversation about the target market of each individual church. If we are not willing to grasp the fact that every church has a target (i.e. primary focus, those that make up the preponderance of our congregational make up, those we are trying to reach and impact in our community, etc) then this is going to be a mute point. However, if we can agree, at least for this discussion, that every local church (small “c” church) has a target/focus market, then the theology of contextualization is dead on. If your target is people that wear ties and like a string quartet to help lead them in worship…then GO FOR IT. Be the best at doing that and reaching that group of people. Do not compromise. Be who you are and be the best God intends you to be to fulfill that vision and mission. If your target is cowboys that wear Wrangler Jeans, cockroach killers and stetsons, then GO FOR IT. Do everything in your power to help that demographic be a part of your vision and mission. If your target is 20-somethings with tats, colored hair and skinny jeans, then GO FOR IT.
You get the point. Be contextual. What is going to be relevant to the target God has called you to reach? How do you lower the drawbridge to this segment of the population and culture so they feel welcome? It does not matter to God (or frankly anyone else) if you like Hayden or Tomlin. Use drums or a pipe organ. Wear robes of shorts. Be who God intended you to be for the mission field in your community He has called you to reach,impact and do life with. This is an incredibly important concept related to your unique story. Don’t miss this opportunity.
Final thought - If we embrace the truth that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow then we he is traditional, contemporary and futuristic…all at the same time. The message of the gospel is timeless & unchanging. However, the methods we implement to convey the gospel are always contemporary to each new generation.