The pic you’re looking at is the Rosedon Hotel, in Hamilton Bermuda. It is a gorgeous Victorian style facility with dignified historical roots. When you enter the Rosedon it immediately feels like you’ve entered a time warp sending you into the early part of the 20th Century.
I’m amazed at how well the Rosedon has preserved, not only their original look, but also their traditional customs. ‘Afternoon Tea’ is offered each day, gathering together many of the hotel guests in the front porch (pictured above). One of the customs they have preserved I had never even heard of—just off the main lobby is an ‘honour bar.’ Someone seeking a pop, beer, wine, or something stronger, simply helps themselves and then scribbles a note with their name and room number. The Rosedon also has a classically decorated library/reading room with furnishings and books much older than I.
The Rosedon is a traditional style hotel and, by the looks and sound of things, is hugely popular. Reflecting upon this, I ask, ‘Can a church offer a traditional style and still be popular?’ (popular is not my preferred word to talk about the church, but I couldn’t think of a suitable alternative!)
I think the answer is ‘Yes’. At St. Giles Kingsway our traditional Sunday morning service is reasonably well attended (200+) and enthusiastically received by those who regularly worship with us. I’m curious, however, if traditionally styled services could help themselves by sensibly integrating that which is not traditional. Again, I think of the Rosedon Hotel. When the hotel first opened, they did not have air conditioning (actually, they didn’t even use electricity for the first few years!). Now, every room is air conditioned. The main lobby looks entirely 1920 with the exception of the flat screen computer monitor, which uses touch screen technology to provide guests with information about the hotel and attractions in Bermuda. Every room has wireless internet access (making this blog post possible!) and satellite TV. The Rosedon is thoroughly traditional, but it has also wisely integrated some contemporary conveniences.
I worry that some congregations commit to the former, while resisting the latter. I regard this to be a mistake. Traditional formats which include contemporary elements is what I would describe as being ‘Appropriately Traditional.’ My conviction is that 21st Century congregations can succeed with a traditional format if they are discerning enough to know how to introduce and integrate contemporary elements. Traditional and contemporary need not be regarded as being mutually exclusive. I’m not advocating here what some would call ‘blended worship’; I’m suggesting that traditional/classical style worship can still be the predominant format, but it would be unwise in my opinion to hold rigidly to that. Just as it would have been unwise for the Rosedon to resist air conditioning, wireless internet, and satellite TV.
If you’ve been tracking this blog, you likely already know of our proposed alternative, not at all traditional ministry, The Well. Many congregations, wanting to simplify things and be specialists, choose one format over against another. I get that. But, frankly, I like both styles immensely. Both styles help me engage God meaningfully. And, Lord willing, I’ll have the energy to promote two very different approaches to worship on Sunday morning. One approach to Sunday morning ministry will be largely devoid of traditional accessories. The other approach will be saturated in them, with an aim of becoming more appropriately traditional. Both, I pray, will glorify God and encourage His people.
What do you think?