Beating the worship rut!

[notice]Hugh Wetmore is a songwriter and student of worship trends. He invites you to join the worship conversation by commenting on his monthly column.[/notice]

Once upon a time the Church found itself in a Worship Rut. We had been singing from the same repertoire of hymns and choruses for many years. Even the Order of Service was in a rut: A Hymn and a Thing and a Hymn and a Thing and a Hymn and a Sermon and a Hymn.

Then, in the 1970s, a new wind blew through many churches. New songs were written, pipe organs gave way to guitars, drums and keyboards. The Orders of Service were not so predictable, and we were refreshed with a new vibrancy of Worship.

Time passed, the years rolled by. Until in the 1990s the Church, without realising it, had slipped into a new rut. They still spoke the language of refreshment, and new songs flooded the churches ~ promoted by artists in tandem with a well-resourced recording industry. But there was a sameness about them. They were shallow in biblical theology, and narrow in the range of their themes. In the Churches each Sunday the Service Order had settled into a new rut: A Song and a Song and a Song and a Song and a Song and a Sermon.

It’s time to get out of this current Worship rut. We need a revival that will move us into Worship that is more worthy of the excellent God we serve. Our songs will be deep in biblical theology, and wide in the range of their themes. Our Orders of Service will include the many components that will please God: Not only Praise and Worship, with the Sermon, but also … corporate confession of sin, affirmations of our faith, testimonies, praying for family needs, reports on evangelism and missionary outreach, followed by intercession for God’s Kingdom concerns, and for our government, justice and human welfare.  The Children’s Chat, Announcements, Offering, Communion, Baptisms would inter-connect.  Ideally the Worship Service should demonstrate a cohesive flow, facilitated by the leader’s continuity remarks and well-chosen songs. This is Integrated Worship.  Not all of these components will be included in each Service, but over time they, and others, will find their place. And no two Worship Services need ever be the same again! No more ruts.

For if we wear down our rut long enough, it will eventually become our grave.




  1. Wise words and a timeous warning for the fanatics on both sides of the worship spectrum: viz the traditionalists and the exclusively contemporary music lovers. I am a (nearly) 70 year old traditionalist who also enjoys singing and occasionally leading contemorary worship. It is so important that we incorporate all the aspects of worship, sharing, meditation, teaching, etc into our services – – just as you suggets in your article

  2. Assie Van der Westhuizen

    Excellent and well said, Hugh!
    May every church leader read this.

  3. Late last year I did the unthinkable – included a hymn in a “contemporary worship” service (a song and a song and …” – and was almost blown away by the positive response I received.

  4. Thanks Hugh, I have been following your “Deep & Wide” discussion for some years now and seek to achieve “Intergrated Worship” each week – at the risk of falling into a rut!