5 Myths about Starting a Contemporary Ministry

As many of us are still primarily worshiping online, now is the perfect time to take an eagle-eye look are your ministry. 

And maybe you’re thinking about bringing in some more contemporary music. Great! Building a bridge between “Traditional” and “Contemporary” styles is one of my favorite topics. It is possible to create a strong ministry that honors both. 

If you’re starting from scratch with contemporary music, or you’ve tried introducing contemporary music before and you don’t know why it’s not catching on, join me as I debunk some myths about starting a contemporary ministry.  

MYTH 1: You need to start with songs from the 90s

I see this a lot in churches. They don’t know where to start, so the pianist buys a book called “101 Contemporary Worship Hits” and treats it like a hymnal. Or maybe it’s a “we need to start with the basics” mindset, as if contemporary worship music is a Netflix series and you need to start at the beginning to get it.

Let me tell you right now: The 90s were the puberty stage of contemporary worship music. They were important and formative years, but it would be embarrassing to return to them. 

As you start, commit to only using songs from the past ten years. Seriously. Don’t even consider Lord I Lift Your Name on High, The Air I Breathe, or Our God is an Awesome God. Your ministry will be better because of it. 

MYTH 2: You need a band before you begin

Recruiting volunteers is a great way to grow a ministry, but I’ll take great worship songs sung by a worship leader on guitar or piano over a sloppily-formed worship band any day. Take your time, and read my post about how a strong Worship Band Values Statement changes everything. In the meantime, focus on what makes these simple, singable songs a great way to connect with God.

Besides, take a listen to any of Phil Wickham’s Singalong albums, where it’s just him and guitar, and see if you really miss drums and bass. 

MYTH 3: You’ll have to say goodbye to hymns forever

By no means! (Romans 6:15-ish) 

Christians have centuries of musical history; ignoring our past does a disservice to us all. Hymns still have plenty of ministry juice left in them. This doesn’t mean that hymns should be the standard of all musical worship, though. You may have to update the instrumentation and do some work to dismantle the patriarchy in their lyrics, but lucky for you, Worship Forward has guides for that! 

Creating a Strong Hymn Arrangement

De-gendering God: How Inclusive Language Revolutionizes Worship

MYTH 4: You’ll find everything you need on CCLI or Christian radio

Finding meaningful, non-problematic worship music is difficult. Just because it’s at the top of the charts doesn’t mean it’s ready to bring to your congregation. Sometimes you have to do some digging. 

While this certainly means more work on the front end, the end product will be so much richer if you do it. If we’re going to promote a more inclusive Christian identity, we have to go against the current of the Conservative Evangelical Machine. Your song choices matter! 

6 Non-Negotiables for Choosing a Worship Song

MYTH 5: Older folks won’t like it

Let’s all take a quick moment to check our ageism. 

Older folks are certainly not of one mind, and many grew up with rock ’n’ roll. I’d also submit that many older folks accept (and even embrace!) that the world is changing, and with that comes change at church. Many want to see their community continue on into future generations. Don’t count older folks out. 

That said, this doesn’t guarantee that you won’t have pushback. The truth is, different people have different preferences. You’re not going to please everyone, but if it’s clear you’re introducing this new music thoughtfully and sensitively, more people will embrace these changes. 

Making changes to how you do ministry always comes with challenges. In the 2020 church, however, innovation is required. We’ve debunked these myths—now it’s time to move our worship forward. 

What are other myths about starting a contemporary ministry? Leave a comment on Worship Forward’s Facebook page!