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Influencing Culture

So as I have written about before, this church has faced the same sort of "worship-wars" as many other congregations over the past ten years. At one point the solution came in the form of multiple stylized services, while today there is one blended service - which has been a source of conflict in the past. Today the tensions surrounding worship style are a sort of dull-roar of background anxiety that flair up every-so-often.

In the past few months we have made enormous strides in healing some of the wounds left by the "worship-wars" as we have produced a more blended service.

But as you know (if you have spent any time in leadership), culture is hard to change, and the patterns of behavior and thought which have been established in people are just as hard to change.

One of the ways that we have helped our congregation to move towards a blended culture where the act of worship and the experience of community is more important than music style, has come in the form of hiring our current Organist Jeff.

Jeff loves worship and loves music, he came in as an organist who played some piano accompaniment for the choir, and has learned how to play with the band. As he has developed that relationship with the band it has influenced the culture around him in some big ways...

1.) The traditional and contemporary ensembles have better learned how to communicate and work together...

2.) The band and the choir have better learned to appreciate each other's gifts...

3.) The experience of seeing the organist/choir director leave the elevated section of the sanctuary where "high worship" happens, cross the wall (there is a physical wall in the sanctuary), and join the band on the floor to play piano and sing has helped the congregation as a whole to take down the dividing wall between "worship-styles" as well...

(Don't make assumptions about who is capable of enjoying what styles of music)


This past week was our annual organ recital: this event would normally have a very predictable demographic in attendance, but this year it was different. We had people from all walks of life in attendance as Jeff skillfully and passionately flexed his talents and showed off what the organ is capable of. He played some of what you would expect, grand high-church pieces from famous German composers - but also African worship chants, Jazz, and show tunes (a 15min arrangement of StarWars music!).

Most important, for the sake of culture change, Jeff played an arrangement of Everlasting God a contemporary worship song that we play regularly at Clairmont. Further breaking down the walls between the perceived division of traditional and modern worship.

As leaders, the best way to effect culture change in your community is to honestly and faithfully model it.

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