Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why "Blended Worship"?

May as well stay and park awhile.  The Shepherd's Conference and Grace Community Church represent "blended worship."  Many evangelical and now fundamentalist churches are blending their worship.  Why "blended worship"?

One word explanation:  pragmatism.

Pragmatism is why evangelicals and fundamentalists blend their worship.

"Blended worship" is in fact an oxymoron.  It isn't worship.  Worship is about God.  Blending is about man.  The "worship" is "blended" for people.  It's a church growth technique.   It's about the flesh, about comfort and convenience, about acceptance, about a fake kind of unity.

I snort and wag my head about blended worship.  It contradicts what is essential about worship.  Worship recognizes God and gives Him what He wants.   Blended "worship" recognizes people and gives them what they want.  You're always going to be wrong when you start with people in worship.  If you are concerned about God, you don't blend your worship.

Some might say that it is multi-generational.  Every generation has its own music and so you use various styles to unify the old folks with the younger folks.  You don't want to lose your young people and they'll bolt if you don't bring in the new music.  Some older people have bought into this argument.  They don't like the new music, but they'll compromise in order to get and keep younger people.  I've talked to some of these older people at these churches.  Their eyes hang at half-mast, communicating the disgust, but it is their church, and they don't think they should leave, because their young people need them.  Their church leaders have explained to them the value of "blended worship" and so they either put up with it or support it because they can't come up with a good argument against.  It's also less and less a problem today because many old people have now grown up with rock music.

Imagine putting the word "blended" next to almost anything else in the Christian life.  Blended evangelism.  Blended prayer.  Blended discipleship.   True worship is sacred.  Nothing blends with the sacred.  It's holy.  Nothing blends less than worship, but it has become the greatest one area of blending in churches.  Is there any accident?

Those reading who like blended worship will argue that I don't know what I'm talking about, that they've forgotten more about worship than I know or that they've got more worship knowledge in their pinky finger than I do in my whole body.  I ask you to recall how I'm adapting to a meaningless world.   I'm not going to attempt to relate to the kooks.

The most significant point about "blended worship" to me is the inescapable and amazing irony of it.  The people who use it would argue that the musical style doesn't mean anything.  If it doesn't mean anything, then you can use one style and it won't matter.  By blending, you are admitting that it matters and that it does mean something.  So it turns the underlying philosophy and thinking into a total fraud.   Now, we already knew it was phony, but "blended worship" makes it as obvious as it can be.

What kind of New Testament, genuine, real Christian would either leave or not join a church because it had acceptable music, but not music that he liked?   Obviously the blended worship people think, "Many."  This betrays a theology.  Ironically, some of these blended worship people are Calvinists.  If the church has solid doctrine, good doctrine, is evangelistic, is making disciples, and the pastor doesn't lord himself over the flock, why would someone reject that church based on a musical preference?  In other words, everyone agrees that the more "conservative" musical style is acceptable, but only a percentage would agree that the less conservative style is acceptable, but the church uses a "blended worship" anyway.   The blended worship people see dismissing one hundred percent unity in the church for the preference of the contemporary style.

But the blended worship supporter says, rightfully, "We won't have one hundred percent unity without blending."  Question:  do the contemporary style supporters find the traditional or conservative unacceptable?  "No.  They're fine with it."  So why forsake total unity, a biblical teaching, for a preference, which is a non-biblical teaching?  Of course, it's because it isn't a preference.  Why it's not a preference is because it doesn't work.  They don't think keeping traditional music will work for church growth.  How does a musical style help church growth?  I thought church growth came from evangelism, which is a supernatural, sovereign work, not the work of man?  "Yes.  It doooooeeeessss.....but."  But what?  "Well."  Well what?  Pragmatism.  That's what.

I want church growth that is about worship, not worship that is about church growth.  If people can't worship like they want, they won't be added to the church?  Even though it's only a preference?

There is a strategy here.  An unspoken one.  Blended worship is a means of incrementalism.   Churches want to keep everyone and they won't do that all at once.  So they make the change a little at a time, until it's all contemporary.  When I say "contemporary," I'm talking about in fitting with the present age, not something that happened to have been written in the 21st century (that's to debunk that inane argument).

The contemporary music style does attract visitors.  It does make certain people feel comfortable.  You'll have more people because you'll be tolerating something that people will want to keep in their lives.  They want the music they want, the dress they want, the beverage they want, the sermon style they want, and the programs they want.  It's not a difficult study to find out what people want.  You don't have to go to college to find that out or lead it.  It is very natural.  It isn't at all supernatural.  When you're all done, you won't have to figure out why the church grew.  There is no mystery there.  It grew because people like churches better that give them what they want.   A spoiled child will behave better when you keep giving him what he wants.   This contradicts biblical Christianity, but you can deal with that later.  Actually, at this point, those arguments have been crafted, are readily available to use.   The original criticism came, arguments were written and tested, retooled, and now they stand as the true meaning of a church gathering.  They only clash with a less popular interpretation.  It's pretty easy to take the new, more convenient meaning.  And your church will get bigger because of it, making the idea to look even smarter.

My thoughts about blended worship are that it is something like blending excrement with beef stew.   You say, "Excrement doesn't work, because no one likes excrement."  Wrong.  Some people do.  They are the people at certain care homes.  My mom worked in one.  Someone messes his bed, and then starts eating it.  Finishes it.  Will do it again.  You've got to get there before he starts.  So some people do like it.  They are people who have lost their mind.  A lot of my readers won't agree that it's excrement, because they like it, and they know they haven't lost their mind.  I say you have lost your mind.  Peter called apostasy, a dog returning to its own vomit.  That's a similar deal as excrement, dog vomit.  And Paul calls people who engage in false worship, "dogs."

If you don't like my illustration, then we can try to come up with another one, but no illustration would be as stark as excrement, so I like it.  We're in sad times when we blend dog vomit with dog food.  Churches are doing that to attract the dogs of this world.   Don't think that blending worship won't affect your doctrine and lead your church down a road to apostasy.  It will.  It has.  It's a reason why we're at where we're at today.  I'll be fine having a handful of people with true worship than blending worship.  I won't accept blended worship.  I won't have blended worship to either keep or get new people.  It's not a biblical model of church growth.  It's pragmatism.  It's not only not a biblical way, but it is an unbiblical way for a church to grow.  It gives glory to man and not to God.  It should be rejected.


Joshua said...

Another example that I have used to explain this to evangelical friends that goes well is "seeker sensitive communion".

I explain as though serious: A study has found that most visitors to a church and many parishioners enjoy Coke and thin crust pizza more than grape juice and unleavened bread. Even better, nowhere in the Bible does it say we can't use pizza and coke for communion! So we made the switch and we get heaps of visitors now for the free pizza and coke sunday communion services. What an opportunity to share the gospel! Some of our old people complained so we either moved them along or we let them have the night service for the boring old wine and bread communion. What do you think?

All have been rightly horrified at the notion. When they get around to articulating what's wrong with this, you'll get the same sentiment every time - you're perverting communion! Communion is supposed to be about unity and God and remembering Jesus death, not pleasing man's flesh! You're just throwing the carnal a bone and using an ordinance to do it! They hate the idea.

I've had some fascinating conversations when I've then pointed out the perfect analogy between this and giving folks rock worship because they like it. Some wince. Some deny it. Most sadly shake their head but take the "what can I do, it's my church?" approach.

Kent Brandenburg said...

It's true Joshua. And it's a good analogy.

Dean Butterfield said...

The word "blended" is simply an adjective, not a theological construct. Move beyond your presuppositions...

KJB1611 said...

Amen! Let us rather die than allow false worship in our churches--Jehovah and Baal are not to be "blended."

Len Peeler said...

Pastor Brandenburg, Wonderful! Wonderful!! Wonderful!!! I re-posted this on my FB page and boy did we have a conversation! Thank you sir!

Kent Brandenburg said...



demapastor said...

thank you for these thoughts.
It wasn't a deep theological essay but I enjoyed reading it!

kevin said...

Ok I dont mean to comment all your articles. I'm just genuinely curious.

But man it just bugs me these teachings. I dont know if you've ever attended a non-IFB church, but many members don't just come back because we give them what they want.

I've personally seen many come to my church get saved, and genuinely have an interest to know more about God. They start serving the church in someway, and join one of the small groups Bible studies held by our church members. It saddens me that you judge other churches and automatically say bad things about them when there are real genuine Christians serving and actually telling their friends about Christ.

Thats all i'll comment for tonight.

Anonymous said...


I believe you that people in your church are sincerely worshiping. Even people worshiping a golden calf are doing it sincerely and are wanting to be better at it. However, the question we should be asking ourselves, "Are we worshiping the way God wants us to?" Every man does what it right in his own eyes. But what does God say? Blended worship is unholy, meaning it is corrupt. To be holy is to be set apart for God, and God will not accept it unless it is done His way. Our standard should not be, "well, if it works then it must be right". In the end, God will judge those things by His Word and if not done according to His Word, it will be burnt up like chaff and be worthless. I would enourage you to purchase and read the book "A Pure Church" written by many Pastors, including Pastor Kent Brandenburg and my Pastor, Pastor Bobby Mitchell. You can buy it at

I hope this helps.

Paul Brownfield