Thursday, April 12, 2012
First, I do have an issue if churches have multiple services for the sole purpose of being the "style buffet" for the membership. Too many churches have fully consumed consumerism, a trend that desperately needs to change if we are ever to engage our context wisely. It has proven impossible for us to constantly feed our own preferences and have any appetite left to help the actual needs of those outside the satisfied family.Just a couple of things to think about here.
Not only is the situation symptomatic of consumerism, it leads, in a practical sense, to issues of budget. To do multiple services well means staffing for different kinds of music that can mean multiple employees each gifted in their particular genre. If all musicians are paid as well, then a church may find itself with a tremendous outlay for salary and resources simply to satisfy the preferences of the membership. With nearly 7 billion people in the world--many of whom have never heard the name of Jesus--I find the idea problematic. But, until our people are taught to find their contentment solely in Jesus, rather than having their preferences indulged, this will only continue. If you're simply coming because this is 'my kind of thing,' then it's just pandering to the consumer preferences of Christians.
Yet, I also think that some churches have moved to multiple services for more strategic reasons-- like engaging their community. (I am not addressing multiple services of the same kind/style here, those provoke much less debate and concern.) But, I am considering multiple "styles" of worship in one church. Though there are complicated issues here, I'd encourage us to consider one of the main concern has to be motivation-- why does a church create multiple services?: to pander to consumer needs or faithfully engage additional people. The fundamental question: is the idea motivated by consumerism or contextualization?
One, multiple worship styles may be necessary for financial well-being. One of the least noted things I have seen in the entire discussion is that it's the "old fogies" that foot most of the bills for a church and they like "traditional worship." Consumerism notwithstanding - you better see to those folks, or costs are not going to be THE financial issue.
Noe do I think a right motivation is to engage "additional" people. The "contemporary" worship service has its roots in "Seeker services" - its about outreach to the community. Hence the extraordinary resemblance to the evangelical parachurch events of my youth.
But hopefully move mature from that. So-called "traditional" worship has an entirely different feel to it, and it is not just musical - it is liturgical and sacramental. It is a form of worship designed over centuries to move the focus from the worshipper to the worshipped.
You see, in the end, the point of church is not just to grow, but to mature - there is a difference.