This past week, a FOX NEWS crew (FOX 31 in Denver) spent much of the afternoon and evening at our church. They were here for our Ascent Service—which is a quarterly evening concert of modern worship. It was timed with the release of the new CD The Glad Sound done by Zac Hicks and the CCPC Worship II Band. The interview crew was gracious, gave us about a two minute report on the evening news, which generated over 3000 hits on our web site. We are grateful for the free advertising. (If you missed it, you can catch the report at ).
Of course, you never have control of things when the media comes in. What came out in the news was their story line. The one that we gave them was somewhat different. Their story line was the not very sensational: “older church seeks to attract young people with new all-contemporary service/this is not your grandmother’s worship service.” Our story line was different. It was—“the unique thing about Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church is that we have two services, one classical, the other convergent, and both are growing.”
The FOX NEWS story line pitted old against new. Our story line said, we have an interesting blend of old and new. We have young people coming to the classical service, we have older people coming to the more modern service. Besides that, the under-35 generation feels rootless and does not desire pure contemporary. They are after a mix of ancient and modern.
I have often said that one of my dreams was to pastor a church that could do classical music well (like St. Matthew Passion, the Messiah, Elijah), and yet had vibrant contemporary worship as well. In most churches, you either get one or the other, and these days it’s more–the other! Not at Cherry Creek! We do have our classical service which is strong and growing. It is more formal and traditional, with choir and pipe organ. But it is a passionate outpouring of an historic style. The service itself combines vibrant traditional worship with a Bible-based, Christ-centered message.
Our second service, called Worship II, is convergent—that is, a mix, a convergence of different currents. It is unlike most other “contemporary” services in that it seeks to meld ancient song texts, liturgy and practices of the church, with modern instrumentation and expression (typically a guitar-led band). It combines a more modern style of music with a Bible-based, Christ-centered message.
Both services strive to be a gospel driven celebration of our hope in Christ. Both speak of creation, fall and redemption through Christ. More important than worship music style for us at Cherry Creek is worship in spirit and in truth. More than music, we believe it is the gospel which ultimately attracts.
But you could sum up the music and worship approach of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church by describing it as an expression of rooted relevance to the glory of God.
It is interesting that both our choir and our band have now put out CDs!
It is even more interesting that our classical music participation has grown in the last two years. We had around 60 in adult choir on Sunday. Our children’s choirs have grown—we have three choirs made up of 60 kids. Our classical instrumental groups have grown. We have a hand-bell choir of 12, a flute choir of 9, a brass group, a student youth orchestra of 40, and now we have about 30 more musicians involved in Worship II band and production.
It is interesting that our music leaders are cross-trained and work well together, sometimes mixing elements in our services. Douglas Macomber, who directs our choir, is also a master organist. But he has interests in drama, film and multi-media. Zac Hicks, who directs our Worship II band, is a classically trained musician, ordained pastor, who also sings in our choir.
The new The Glad Sound CD, is a reflection of Worship II. But it is inspired by what is sometimes known as the “new hymns movement” (Indelible Grace, etc.) It aims to take old, rich hymn texts and put new music to these words. It is quite amazing to hear more hymns at CCPC than ever before, and to hear the Worship II crowd singing more Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and William Cowper!
All this in the same church. And I get to be blessed by worshipping in both services, seeing that there are many ways to make a joyful noise to the Lord.
At the end of the interview, the reporter looked at me and asked, “Okay, so what kind of music do you really enjoy?” I told her that “musically, I am an eclectic mess, like so many people in our culture.” I like lots of different musical expressions, but more important than style is that we do what we do with excellence for the purpose of exalting Jesus Christ. Interested? Come visit us.
To hear or purchase The Glad Sound CD, click to http://www.zachicks.com/