As I see it you have seven options when it comes to music:
- You can stay with what you have. This is not an altogether bad idea. I have a pastor friend who opted for this choice. They even ran an ad in the paper that said, “The church where you can still sing Amazing Grace.” He told me every time he ran that ad new people showed up. Probably not unchurched people, mind you, but he did get visitors. God loves all kinds of people. As Rick Warren says, “It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.” I believe God wants some churches to stay traditional. You may be one of those churches. If you and your people love traditional music don’t let anyone shame you into doing anything different.
- Transition. This is my least favorite option. It assumes that if you move slowly enough, and skillfully enough, that you can transition someone who loves traditional music into someone who loves contemporary music. This is rarely the case. I am pretty sure I would not want someone transitioning me. I have liked the music that I like for a long time and I am pretty sure I would be irritated if someone tried to change that. And, here is another problem. Long before you transition your service into being something that is attractive to unchurched young people it will become irritating to the people you have. In the best of cases, everyone is equally unhappy.
- Freshening up. This may sound like the transitioning model but there is a key difference. The freshening up model understands that we will never become a North Point or Willow Creek. It also understands that we don’t have to be stuck in 1950 either. Freshening up means we do a few new songs. Note the word few. We do some old songs in a new way. We do some new things, but we understand the limits.
- Blending. This approach seeks to find a happy balance between traditional and contemporary. It has its limits, but if done skillfully, this may be the best approach for most churches. The trade-off, of course, is that you will not really please people on either end of the spectrum. This seems to be the most common approach I see in my travels. Done poorly, this approach will make everyone equally unhappy.