Churches, like nearly all aspects of society, are going through changes that come with a new generation and technology.
But there remains a steady ground in faith that not even technology can change; and if anything, the two are right on path together.
For some time, Cullman First United Methodist Church has been offering three Sunday services — Contemporary, Traditional, Hispanic — and now a fourth, known at Fusion.
After a soft beginning to Fusion in August, the blending of traditional worship liturgy with classical and modern church music is catching hold, said the Rev. Todd Henderson, senior pastor at Cullman First United Methodist.
“We’re offering the service at 8:30 a.m. on Sundays and we’re excited about it. People are really enjoying it,” Henderson said. “This brings together people of all ages by providing portions of what everyone enjoys are makes worship meaningful to them.
Fusion makes use of digital media in the sanctuary, using a screen in the choir loft to project messages during the service. And rather than being led by the choir, the congregation follows a mix of traditional church instruments such as the piano and more contemporary instruments like the guitar. Each service features both traditional songs out of the hymnal and songs that might be today on a contemporary Christian radio station.
”Everyone that has attended has said they like it, young and old, traditional or contemporary background,” Henderson said. “It’s a broader diversity of attendees. Some of it’s the hour. Some of it’s the style.”
At the core of the Fusion service is bringing members of the congregation, united in worship and faith, Henderson said.
While separate services of solely contemporary or traditional will continue, the Fusion approach eliminates any sense of segregation among ages because of worship preferences.
“This does provide more opportunities for people to worship together and to become stronger and closer as a congregation under the same faith we all share,” Henderson said. “The use of technology is something you can’t deny. It’s a gift provided to use to use.”
As an example, Henderson referred to Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith who in 1439 invented an effective press that revolutionized printing of books, including the Bible for a wide audience. The influence of mass printing and distribution is an influence that carried deep into the 20th century.
But more recent advances in technology — the digital age — is the press of the current generation.
“We have the Gutenberg generation and the Google generation,” Henderson said. “It’s just a difference in how you get information, how you read and communicate. The methods change, but in the Christian faith the message never changes. Yes, it can be used for bad things, but God uses this for good. It’s part of how you reach out to people and minister now.”