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What Is Blended Worship?

What Is Blended Worship?

Posted by Teresa Ledford on Jan 24th 2024

In the context of music, the simplest definition of blended worship is to combine traditional hymns and contemporary songs within a single service. This does not mean singing a hymn with organ or orchestra, followed by a modern song with a pop/rock band, followed by a bluegrass gospel song—all in the same service. Blended worship involves mixing older and newer songs of various genres in a cohesive manner.

If you’re cooking a meal, it is unwise to throw random ingredients together and hope for the best. Recipes tell you which ingredients to use and how to prepare them properly. Likewise, incorporating every musical genre you can think of, solely for the sake of diversity, will not yield good results. Your musical “ingredients” must work together to create something new.

So, how do you effectively combine songs from different historical eras and genres? While there are many ways to accomplish this musically, it’s actually more about the lyrics. Find songs that work together lyrically, regardless of when they were written. Then you can decide which of them can be combined musically within your overall style.

You may be beginning to realize that planning a blended worship service requires, well... planning. It also involves coordinating with your pastor. He/she doesn’t have to be directly involved with choosing the songs, but you should be on the same page regarding the appropriate theme for each week.

In order to understand blended worship on a practical level, let’s begin by listing what it is not.

Blended worship does not mean:

  • Phasing out hymns in favor of newer songs.
  • Singing hymns in one part of the service and contemporary songs in another part.
  • Adding a token hymn or modern song every now and then to appease certain people.
  • Allowing only younger, cool-looking people to lead worship.
  • Watering down the Gospel message in an attempt to appear culturally “relevant.”

Blended worship doesn’t have to mean:

  • Replacing the piano with a band.
  • Replacing the choir with a smaller “praise team.”
  • Playing and singing from chord charts.
  • Buying expensive audio/visual equipment.
  • Projecting lyrics on a screen (you can print them in the bulletin with a CCLI license).

In traditional services, hymns are typically sung one at a time. There’s often one near the beginning, one right after the sermon, and one near the end. While modern songs can be used within that format (and you might need to start there at first), blended worship services often combine related songs into a “set” that flows from one song to the next. This requires more intentional planning than simply plugging individual songs into prescribed slots in the bulletin. The results, however, can be quite powerful.

If you’re not already familiar with contemporary worship songs, take the time to expand your knowledge and personal repertoire. This will enable you to make better song selections for your church. As a good starting point, see our blog posts called 10 Best Songs to Introduce Blended Worship and 10 Best Praise & Worship Classics. Reference audio clips are provided for convenience, along with links to digital sheet music.

CCLI is another convenient resource for discovering contemporary worship songs. Their biannual Top 100 list contains a healthy mix of well-established songs and newer, “trending” songs. After becoming familiar with some of these songs, imagine your parents or grandparents trying to sing them. The strongest songs can be easily learned by everyone, regardless of age.

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