There are three common music models in western/protestant/liturgical churches these days:
1. The traditional model. The music is almost exclusively classical, and any contemporary elements are on the fringes.
2. The contemporary model. The music is almost exclusively modern, and any traditional elements are on the fringes.
3. The ping-pong model. There’s a traditional side and a contemporary side. Each side gets its turn, at its own service, or with its own songs, and there isn’t a whole lot of unity or cooperation.
Is it possible for a church with a history of a traditional music program (choir, organ, hymnals, handbells, etc.) to embrace modern forms of music (bands, vocalists, projected lyrics, “worship teams”, etc.) without the traditional music dying as a result?
Yes, it is possible. And that’s what my church, our congregation, our choir, our instrumentalists, and I are pursuing these days.
We’re pursuing a fourth model, which is called “convergence”. Maybe you call it “blended”. It allows for vibrant traditional music, and vibrant contemporary music, and it puts them together in one combined expression. Choir plus singers. Organ plus band. Traditional plus contemporary. 6th century plus 21st century. Liturgy plus spontaneity. We can play ping-pong when it’s called for, but we play together most of the time.
This “convergence” model accomplishes several things:
1. It’s faithful to our past
2. It builds a bridge to the future, and to those from outside our traditions
3. It’s a picture of the body (independence and interdepence)
4. It’s alive and messy and risky and new and exciting
5. It’s about addition, not about subtraction
6. It demonstrates our unity in Christ
What does this model mean for a traditional church choir?