WELS Worship Poll Results

Dear fellow WELS and ELS members, as promised, here are the results from my recent poll on worship music style within our Synods. 

First I would like to thank all of those who have participated and may God bless each of your congregation’s richly through your eagerness to improve your worship and musical offerings – whichever style you choose to use. 

The biggest surprise to me in the poll results was the extent to which contemporary music is being used within the WELS and ELS churches today.  According to my survey results: 

23% use only hymns accompanied by the organ
77% use acoustic guitar and piano on at least some of their music
12.5% don’t even own an organ. 

This is mind boggling to me but I suspect these numbers represent more of the WELS/ELS audience that view my BLOG as opposed to our Synods as a whole but nonetheless, this is data that can not and should not be ignored by our Synod offices.  In my opinion, the Worship Supplement was an incredible step in the right direction but we need more resources, more training, and more education to go along with all of the newer music and different forms of accompaniment that our congregations are moving toward. 

Here are the complete numerical results to date:  

  Votes Percent Declining Maintaining Growing
1. We still only use the old blue hymnals. 1 2.1% 0 1 0
2. None, CW hymns sung along with organ accompaniment.  6.45%  (2 votes) 2 4.2% 1 0 1
3. CW hymns & a few new hymns from the Supplement,
but still all accompanied with the organ.
6 12.5% 2 0 1
4. CW hymns, Supplement hymns, and GIA pieces,
all accompanied with the organ.
2 4.2% 1 0 0
5. CW hymns, Supplement hymns, and GIA pieces,
accompanied with the organ or a limited praise band (piano and acoustic guitar – no drums).
4 8.3% 0 2 2
6. CW hymns, Supplement hymns, GIA pieces,
and the LAPPY or equivalent songbooks accompanied with the organ or a limited praise band (piano and acoustic guitar – no drums).
10 20.8% 0 1 9
7. We are blended. We use hymns and contemporary songs, praise bands and organs depending on the particular song style. The praise band can have drums, bass guitars and electric guitars. 15 31.3% 0 0 14
8. We offer both traditional and contemporary services
each week.
2 4.2% 0 0 2
9. We only use contemporary music with praise band
accompaniment (piano, drums, electric guitars, bass guitar, etc.). We don’t even own an organ.
6 12.5% 0 0 5
           
Total: 48        

The reported results in terms of growth for those churches using newer music are extremely encouraging to say the least.  God be praised! 

So here are a few things that would be great from our Synod Offices and Publishing Houses in 2012 and beyond: 

  1. A new contemporary songbook to replace LAPPY.  LAPPY was fine for it’s time but its lack of guitar chords on many of the songs is inexcusable today.  Plus, contemporary music by definition is new and fresh.  These types of songbooks need to be revised every ten years or sooner.  They have a much shorter life than hymnals by their very nature.
  2. A supplement to our “Christian Worship” hymnbook that contains chords to all the hymns that lend themselves to a modern style of accompaniment.
  3. Some new “orders of service” for use with contemporary musical styles.  These would be alternate settings that do not rely solely on the organ for accompaniment.
  4. Some emphasis on our own gifted musicians (for example Koine’ and the Branches Band), maybe using their arrangements in a song book. 
  5. More encouragement, acceptance and resources for musicians that play contemporary instruments like the drums, keyboards/piano, bass guitar and electric/acoustic guitars.  These instruments need to be part of our Synod’s “Worship and Arts” conferences.
  6. Articles in the “Forward in Christ” magazine and the “WELS Connection” videos demonstrating the best uses of well written contemporary music and the positive effects that they are having in our Synod and reaching out to the lost.
  7. Articles in the “Forward in Christ” magazine and the “WELS Connection” videos on what’s happening in churches within the Synod that are trying new worship formats and styles. 
  8. A committee defined and created to be tasked with looking for good contemporary music; both musically and lyrically, with our Lectionary calendar in mind. 

Hopeful thinking, yes, but we do need this and I pray for the Lord’s blessings to make this at least get some exposure. 

“Lift up the voice and strike the string, Let all glad sounds of music ring, In God’s praises blended.”  – CW79 vs 5

 

 

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2 thoughts on “WELS Worship Poll Results”

  1. Hi Steve!

    I just saw your blog. Thank you for your service at Messiah!

    I, too, appreciate songs, old and new, that clearly proclaim Christ and His cross and sacraments and how much He loves us and gives us. There are some great songs in Christian Worship: Supplement that we enjoy using in our parish. And I’m grateful to Let All The People Praise You for the additional Christmas carols!

    I did have a question, if you’ve got a minute.

    First, I took note of your WELS poll of worship styles (Jan 2012). Since I am writing a paper about current trends in Lutheranism, I was interested in your suggestion #6:

    “Articles in the “Forward in Christ” magazine and the “WELS Connection” videos demonstrating the best uses of well written contemporary music and the positive effects that they are having in our Synod and reaching out to the lost.”

    So I was wondering and would love to listen to your thoughts on this: Should a Lutheran worship planner choose music that gets results and has positive effects on church attendance or should they choose music that clearly proclaims Christ and His gifts?

    Thanks again and may you have a blessed Ascension day!
    Pastor Luke Boehringer
    Davenport, Iowa

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