I feel the next major conversation about worship will be dealing with how performance driven worship bands are. There are a few tipping points that will push this conversation into our churches. Many churches are still deeply entrenched in the conversation about cultural relevancy (contemporary vs. blended vs. traditional). The new trend discussion but will performance driven worship vs. (and I am reporting here) "a more worshipful experience".
Some of the underlying elements at play in the old conversation have been: the songs chosen for corporate worship (hymns vs. choruses), if songs contain enough scripture, if drums are used in the presentation and on the list can go. We are all rather familiar with this old discussion. Digging deeper we find intertwined is the personality and countenance of the main leader in the corporate setting. Specifically, was this person showy or not. Are they perceived as authentic in their desire to point people towards encountering Christ during the service. The success of a church changing their worship culture largely leans upon the perceived motives of this main one leader. The tradition in many of our churches of one main leader has many roots of it's own. Challenging that model is difficult. It takes more work to have multiple leaders exemplifying community on stage. Some serious further consideration concerning it's long term ramifications on the culture of a church should be done. There are plenty of healthy examples. One will find there are still strong leaders involved. They are just leaders with a broader stewardship view of art in the church than the Matchbox 20 looking band leading worship.
Our churches have purchased electric instruments (yes I'm smiling), acquired artists and technical directors as student ministries have followed suit. Yes the pervasive influence of main stream pop culture infiltrated our church when CCM decided to make a subculture with sub par art! I would challenge church leaders to attribute those things to God which he deserves. Some of our advancement in the arts has not come from main stream pop culture but in fact from the gifting of the Holy Spirit to individuals in the body. This has happened in concert with all of nature echoing we are truly being made in the image of our creator as creators.
It is difficult to make general statements about the church or the overall state of the Church in America. Let's try anyway. There seems to be a surge in worship feeling more concert like and presentation focused in the coming years. I can foresee a large group of people who are still ministered to by this and fully participating in the corporate service with even less inhibitions. I do not personally advocate this direction which will cause division in our body.
On the other hand I see a large push back from those who feel it is unauthentic and does not bring glory to God. My gut tells me that much of this worship war aligning will come from music preference more so than methodological opinions. This group of people will agree that our gifts should be used in the body to celebrate Christ. The point of tension will be centered around just how produced will we allow our services to become. The main question this group will pose is, "where will it lead?". Will services previously designed to encounter God become so entertaining that we lose our purpose of eklesia?
One major happening confusing this whole new conversation will be the state of Christian music today. I don't necessarily think this stems from something bad; but 5 of todays top 10 Christian songs are by worship band/leaders. (See Billboard top 10 here)
These bands rose in popularity because they were touching the pulse of Christian interests through the rise of worship experiences over the past 10 years. There is a large group of people pointing to the marketed and secularization of worship music.
These conversations are VERY OLD! Check out this link to see the riff Niceta, Bishop of Remesiana, settles on weather or not Psalms should be sung out loud in church or not. He then goes on to describe proper artistic nuances for appropriate corporate singing. It is almost like he's introducing us to this new wave of worship conversations we'll all soon find ourselves in.