I took my first official church ministry position in 1996 at my home church as the music director. Church was simple in those days. There was minimal need for technology, programs had been “tried and true”, but things began to shift as we entered the 21st century. Some changes were great; some were not so great. I am going to share some observations of pros and cons. For those who read my posts enough, you know that I welcome your input and observations also.
- An emphasis on worship. When I was growing up, worship was what services were called. I can’t say that we did much of it, but we used the worship in bulletins and on church signs. We have become more expressive and gained a more multi-faceted, biblical understanding of what worship truly is. For that I am grateful.
- An emphasis on discipleship. The church realized that we were not making disciples. We had Sunday School classes and even small groups, but many pastors had to face the fact that their preaching is not enough to disciple believers. They need individual, intentional discipleship. We discovered that 3 weekly sermons of either the basic gospel message or preaching against the sin of the day was not enough to teach them the deeper doctrines or Scripture.
- A consumer-driven approach. We now are so focused on appealing to people that we often fail to please God. I am all about welcoming guests and making them feel welcome but not at the expense of the gospel. Programs are great as long as they are fulfilling the Great Commission. If they are just entertainment, church leadership should reconsider their validity.
- A performance-driven approach. Worship leaders and bands work countless hours to provide an awesome show. The smoke, the lights, and all the media are cued to go off at the right time to “help the Holy Spirit” work (like He needs our manufacturing).
- An emphasis on butts and buck$. The more butts, the more buck$…cha-ching! Roll them in, then roll them out. I visited a well-known megachurch several times. They rolled us in, told us where to sit, and rolled us out (that would go over like a lead balloon in the traditional church). People didn’t really talk to each other. The preaching and music were great, but it was totally impersonal. They say that small groups are intended to make up for this. That works great if the church returns your phone calls or emails about small groups.
- Mass evangelism. It’s 1-2-3-pray-after-me, and they promise that you have a one-way ticket to Heaven. Am I saying that people do not genuinely given their life to Christ in the services? No! However, many people gain a false sense of security because the message has narcissistically presented with a “sinner’s prayer” tacked on at the end. Mass evangelism is nothing new. This is decades if not centuries old. May we not neglect personally sharing our faith and watching the Holy Spirit convict hearts as we build bridges and share the life-changing message that Jesus saves.
What would you add to this? What insights do you have? I would love to hear from you.