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Leadership JournalLeading today's people into God's presence.
Spring 1999

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Post-Contemporary Worship



Worship forms have changed dramatically in this generation.

What should we be prepared for as boomers age and yet another generation makes its mark? Daniel Harrell, who has led innovative efforts to reach young adults at historic Park Street Church in Boston, suggests the hints on the horizon.

Last fall I attended a conference sponsored by Leadership Network that focused on the "post-modern reformation." We looked at issues related to Generations "X" and "Y." Worship times were led by teams from "post-modern" congregations.

Entering the chapel, the room was dark except for the dim flicker of dozens of carefully placed candles. The screen above the stage displayed an image of an Orthodox icon of Christ. The mood was somber yet expectant. All that was missing was a waft of incense.

The electric guitar and percussion-laden worship band struck up a surprisingly gloomy tune and invited those gathered to rise and praise God—a stark contrast to the upbeat tones typical of most contemporary worship services.

An older man leaned over to me and asked, "What is all this witchy-poo stuff?" I had to laugh as I imagined the coronaries that such an approach would have elicited at my church.

It was easy to be cynical. Yet by the end of the conference, despite the skepticism, many claimed to have met with God.

Blending the traditions

The services, one conducted by a church from Seattle called Mars Hill Fellowship and another by Pathways Church near Denver, were similar. Both revealed the latest "cutting edge" of worship, a style rife with irony:

Alternative rock proliferates in an atmosphere conducive to Gregorian chant.

Candlelight illumines the sanctuary while high-tech LCDprojectors display poetic song lyrics and glimpses of medieval art ...



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