Contemporary Worship Styles Hinder the Unity of the Church

One of the most beautiful attributes of the Church is unity. To be more specific, the unity that is found in Jesus Christ. In John 13:35, we read Jesus’ encouragement to His disciples that, “all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” Christians are to love our neighbors, for sure; but one of the things that separates us from non-believers is our love for fellow Christians. Among other ways, that love is visibly manifest in the unity found within the local church.

Guarding that unity through prayer, humility, and diligence is vital to the continued health of churches and the ability to effectively share the Gospel. Unfortunately, one of the pictures that the Church often gives the world is that of disunity.

If they know next to nothing about the church, many non-Christians know enough to dismissively chuckle at jokes about church splits due to trivial things like the color of the carpet, length of sermons, and the style of music. Recognizing that, and in a misguided effort to keep everyone happy, many churches have resorted to two different worship services – “traditional” and “contemporary.” Unfortunately, “contemporary worship” services do not aid the pursuit of unity.

Right off the bat, splitting a single church into basically two different churches that meet in the same building is, well, obviously divisive. That’s not to deny that the impulse isn’t often well-meaning. The desire to serve two different target audiences, so to speak, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but that desire should be worked out as corporately as possible.

One of the ways in which a church can reflect God to the community is through diversity. With the differences in age, sex, race, and personalities, the Church is a mishmash of image bearers who together reflect the love of Christ. In my church, for example, the fact that a long-haired, rock and roll-loving, beer-swilling individual like myself can not only worship beside a buttoned-up, teetotaling, African-American lawyer, but that we genuinely love each other as brothers, is a testimony to the unity found in Christ. If he attends a “traditional” service while I go to a “contemporary” service on Sunday mornings, the beauty found in diversity is ironed out, and my church displays the love of Jesus to our community a little less.