Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Exploring Contemporary worship Part 1

Hi Guys,
I'm starting a series of posts which I've titled 'Exploring Contemporary Praise and Worship (CPW)'. I am very excited about this. I'd be looking at it from a very practical, common sense and technical point of view. Because contemporary praise and worship is foreign to the majority of us, it's important to embrace and learn the art and approach to it. It's the same thing as embracing a new culture. The same way the entire world uses English as common language, that's the same way we must embrace CPW. The same way you don't speak your native dialect in a foreign land because of adaptability, that's the same mentality we must adopt with CPW. Imagine this cycle:a praise leader looks for the next big 'contemporary song'. The choir doesn't learn it properly; or we sing our own version of it. We do it like we're doing high praise. Then we over-sing it and get tired of it, like sucking the sweetness out of an iced drink . Then it gets boring, routine and dry. Sounds familiar if you're a praise and worship leader in winners choir London..LOL.

Just a few days ago, a pastor in the church humorously asked me 'please free us once in a while to do canaanland style naw! Let's sing a ka marama...'. I honestly couldn't help cracking up. LOL. I kindly let him know that it wasn't my decision. This mentality should give us a reason to be purposeful in our approach to contemporary praise and worship.

What style or genre does Contemporary praise and worship fall under. The word 'Contemporary' actually means something that is 'modern', 'global' or in use at a certain period of time. The term 'Contemporary praise and worship' is actually a very bogus term that is so hard to define. This is because of the many genres that actually exist.

You have the following genres for instance-Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) or Contemporary Christian Worship (CCW) (most songs from Integrity music, Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, Michael W. Smith, etc. or what people tag 'white church's music');Traditional gospel ,what we refer to as Baptist in the choir (Hand clapping/feet stomping music that stemmed from the black-populated baptist churches in the 60's/70's/80's);Urban Contemporary Praise and Worship (songs by Fred Hammond, Byron Cage, Kurt Carr like 'We lift our hands in the sanctuary', 'Blessed', 'I will bless the Lord at all times', 'the presence of the Lord is Here');Gospel Praise/Worship (A newer style of Praise and Worship in the 21st century from the 'black church' from younger worship leaders like Jonathan Nelson, JJ Hairston, Vashawn Mitchell, William Murphy, William McDowell with songs like 'Chasing After you', 'Let it rise', 'Lord you are awesome', etc.) and even a mixture of different genre like you have with worship leaders like Israel Houghton and Martha Munizzi. 
We even do Raggae/Ragga in church and even south african-styled songs like 'All around', 'Come let us praise' and 'Lord Reign in Me'. I believe you see why the word 'contemporary praise and worship' is so hard to define.

Understanding these different genres and styles will help us in selecting songs effectively and knowing how to approach each Worship session. Doing different styles of CPW is a plus because it helps to serve different cultures in our congregation. The disadvantage of having many styles is that it makes us 'mediocre' at many styles and never becoming master at one. Most contemporary Churches having very experienced and professional musicians tend to focus on 1 or 2 styles and probably do another style once in a while; hence it's easy to see the excellence they demonstrate (When you say 'Hillsong'; you know what to expect). We must begin to think carefully about our approach to each praise and worship session to be relevant in our attempt to be contemporary.

Let's think carefully about this and also research different genres of contemporary praise and worship. Let me know what you think by adding your contributions and questions and let me know what you think about this post.



  1. Great and inspiring stuff. I'm hoping we all can have some dialogue here.

  2. Good work Bro Osi. Concerning focusing on a particular style of CPW,don't you think it will mean suppressing some "HolyGhost inspired songs" particularly if it's not in-line with the style we have chosen?

    Lara Balogun

  3. @Treasure- Thanks for having a read. I hope it challenges you. Actually I'm not advocating we focus on one style. In fact variety helps to keep the atmosphere fresh and also helps to cater to people of different ages, backgrounds and cultures.The point I'm making is that whichever style we want to do,we must aspire to understand that style and also to execute it with a reasonable high level of excellence. If we want to do raggae, let is sound and feel like Raggae. If we want to do rock, let it not sound like an african version of it. I hope you see my point.

  4. @Treasure- Also, the purpose of all this isn't to in any way suppress Holy Spirit inspired songs. It's just to challenge ourselves to a life of excellence which in itself glorifies God. As we focus on proper preparation in all we do, we will also make it a point to stay yielded to the Holy Spirit so that we're in tune with His move in our midst.