Rapid Changes in Worship Services?
Recently, Thom Rainer posted a blog entitled, "Nine Rapid Changes in Church Worship Services" in which he briefly reflected on nine rapid changes in the modern evangelical church. His nine observations are partially based on The National Congregations Study by Duke University. I have summarized Rainer's 9 observations in parenthesis and followed them with a few of my thoughts:
#1. (Choirs are disappearing)– Ah, ok I guess. I'm not against having or not having choir. I just think that choir is ok but not necessary.
#2. (Casual dress is increasing)–I have mixed thoughts on this one. Those of you who know me, known that I wear a tie (most of the time), when I preach. I actually have a missional reason for that, and that missional reason is why the casual dress trend is not for me right now. I must say though that I don't think that dressing casual at church is any great sin.
#3. (Screens are normative) Again, no big deal for me. Though I will say that Neil Postman (author of Amusing Ourselves to Death) would say that the presence of screens is quite unfortunate, because it is a manifestation of our dumbing down, need for visual stimulation, and insatiable appetite for entertainment.
#4. (Preaching is longer)–This is shocking to me, and I am highly suspect of its accuracy. If it were true, I would applaud this change. I'm not a fan of the shorter, sound bite, simple, “how-to,” fluff-oriented sermons that dominate the church culture today. Just read a sermon by John Wesley or Johnathan Edwards (not to mention any of the pre-Enlightenment preachers) . . . We in the modern church age just don't have the passion for knowledge or fortitude for pursuit of the truth that is required for their kind of preaching.
#5. (Multi-contexts are normative)–This is unhealthy on soooo many levels.
#6. (Diversity is increasing among attendees)– YES! AMEN! AND AMEN! This trend represents the Gospel. Just read Paul's letter to the Romans.
#7. (Conflict is not increasing)– This could be good or bad. Conflict is a part of life and family. So, conflict in a church is expected and normal. In fact, I would say that it is ESSENTIAL for growth and discipleship. Some of the most productive times in Church history involved a great deal of conflict in the Church. (Hello? The Reformation anyone?) Of course, we must remember that there is unhealthy conflict and healthy conflict, and I am in favor of the healthy kind. It all depends on what the conflict is about. So, a decrease in conflict may not necessarily be good . . . it may mean that we are just comfortable and complacent.
#8. (90% of attendees are in churches of over 400 in attendance)–Again, this is an unhealthy and alarming trend. I think it absolutely reflects our franchised and consumer driven cultural mindset, and unfortunately it is deeply entrenched in the church.
#9. (Sunday evening services are disappearing)–Doesn’t bother me. I'm not against having or not having Sunday evening worship. Like Choir, it's ok but not necessary. The real question that we should ask is . . . What is it accomplishing in reference to discipleship? Just for the record . . . Where again in the Bible does it say, “Thou shalt have Sunday evening worship service”? . . . Right.