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Many Waco churches now worship in alternative styles

March 4, 1997

By Chad Jackson

Lariat Reporter

Waco churches are practicing alternative styles of worship to accommodate a new generation of worshippers. Today, many churches that University students attend utilize informal styles of worship within formal services.

Alternative styles of worship include drama, contemporary songs, bands and video clips. In the past, new worship styles have been seen as controversial, but now they are a more common part of worship.

Ann Farley, an assistant at Baptist Student Ministries, said churches are more aware of a congregation's changing needs than they were in the past, and this is a growth.

The Rev. Dr. Eric Holleyman, pastor of Meadowbrook Baptist Church, said he uses a blend of contemporary and traditional worship services.

'I do not think this congregation is going to respond well to extremes,' Holleyman said of the members of Meadowbrook.

The church uses drama and contemporary songs but also continues the use of traditional hymns and a sermon.

Holleyman said the quality of worship is more important than whether it is traditional or contemporary.

'In blending, whatever we do, it should be done well,' Holleyman said.

Brooks Van Horn III, a Herndon, Va., junior, said worship at First Baptist Church of Woodway is also a mix of both contemporary and traditional worship styles.

Woodway has a young congregation, with an average age is in the middle 30s, Van Horn said. To accommodate this age group, the church uses 'choruses' in its 'pre-service' presentation and once in the middle of the service, he said. They also use dramatic presentations for application to the message.

'Drama goes over very well with the congregation,' Van Horn said.

Van Horn said the presentation is not glitzy. He said people talk more than doing large actions, there are little or no props, and the skit is usually light in humor.

Van Horn said the church is formal, but these contemporary actions are effective for this congregation.

He also said that if worship is not effective, then the style of worship cannot be right.

Farley said the choice of worship style depends on the audience and each church should have a worship service tailored to the congregation.

'Worship diminishes if we don't incorporate reverence,' Farley said.

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