Two surveys conducted by Christianity Today's sister publication Your Church show that the number of American churches using predominantly nontraditional music in their worship services has more than doubled from 1993 to 1996. The studies, appearing in the July/August 1997 issue, were conducted by John C. LaRue, Jr., executive director of research and development for Christianity Today International.

Churches fell into three easily defined music styles (see Graph 1). The largest group currently is "nontraditional" or contemporary and includes four out of every ten churches. The worship music in these congregations is mainly contemporary. This group is rapidly growing, being up 14 percentage points in the past three years, and it is the only one that has seen an increase.

The next largest group of churches is "traditional." At least three-fourths of the music performed in these churches on Sunday morning is traditional (using hymns and organ) in style. Of the three classifications, this one has declined the most (down 12 percentage points).

"Moderately traditional" churches are the smallest and most steady group. Approximately one-fourth of all American churches are in this category. Between half and three-fourths of the music used during Sunday morning worship in this group is traditional.

Despite the shift toward contemporary music, 60 percent of the music used during Sunday morning worship in the typical American church is traditional. Four years ago, the figure was 75 percent.

Churches with predominantly contemporary worship music stand out in the following ways:

Average Sunday morning attendance in contemporary churches (314) is nearly twice that of more traditional congregations (172).

—More contemporary churches ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.