February 24, 2006

Church IS Failing - Part I

This evening, my wife and I sat in a Chinese restaurant eating dinner and discussing our church. We attended the contemporary worship service last weekend, the first time in a few months to be completely honest. We stopped attending the service a while back.

A few months prior to today, we were driving home for lunch after leaving the worship service that ends just before noon. The both of us were quiet and unenthusiastic. One of asked the other, "How do you feel about the service now-a-days?" Thus began the journey into realization - that after two years of being a part of this worship service, (my wife singing in the praise band, myself running the sound board,) it was no longer filling us up but leaving us empty. The songs were getting slower, the enthusiasm lower. It just wasn't there any longer. We decided to try out some other local church services.

Here eating dinner out at our favorite Chinese place, we discussed the current condition of the service. It's pretty sickly, down around half from its peak attendance. What used to be an upbeat and growing service filled with 20's to 40's and their children, was now a slow, shrinking collection of 30's to 60's. You can see that many of the praise band members have left. We just learned today that the recent reaction to this decline was - changing to a traditional order of worship. .... !?!?!?!
[insert record scratch here]

Hold on folks! Huh!? Now, let's review that again. A contemporary service that was previously upbeat, enthusiastic, and strong, lost its impact for whatever reason - and a traditional order of worship is the shot in the arm it needs? We're desperate here! We want to worship but you're boring us! This is not a rant, but a plea. My wife and I are disappointed and unfulfilled, and we're quite obviously not the only ones. I can't say this builds a great deal of hope in my heart, from a church that has persisted over 100 years and is struggling to reach a postmodern group.

Why are they failing?

I'll make some suggestions in Part II, but if you're following me here and have any comments, I'm very interested and listening.

Brian Slezak


Anonymous said...

Tough questions, no easy answers. I'm no expert on this, but it seems that the style - traditional vs. contemporary - is not the issue, if people are being reached. Many people are able to worship in a traditional setting, however, I am like you, I pretty much like anything but traditional. If traditional was reaching the people of the church, then it's good, but it sounds like it's not, so I agree with your questions.

My family and I are looking for a new church home and the music/style is a huge factor. We visited one church a couple weeks ago and the music was pretty sad, otherwise, it was a solid, Bible teaching church.

We are heading out to try another new church in the morning and have no clue what the music will be like, so I am really anticipating that.

I'll be interested to see part 2, once you post it.

kc bob said...

Whatever worship style or method a church uses I think that it is important that our worship be filled with the Joy of the Lord and passion. I have been in services when we sang hymns like All Hail the Power in Jesus’ Name (from a hymnal) and thought I was in heaven ... the singing was FULL of passion and conviction and the joy of the Lord. I have also been in services where the songs were projected on a screen and found the worshippers to be passionless and more concerned about watching others and being watched than losing themselves in our Lord’s presence.

Here's praying that you and your wife find a church where passionate people are loving God and finding His presence in worship.

Brian Slezak said...

Thanks for the comments, and for prayers.

One question I did not frame earlier is whether or not the worship service is targeted at 20s to 30s? If not, then we can understand their current direction, but if so then we're disappointed. More to come....

James said...

The truth of the problem is that the Spirit has gone out of people. How about you try going to church with an attitude of what can I give rather than what do you have for me today. Is the music portion of your worship all you have? The Bible states that the hearts of man is won by the foolishness of preaching, not singing. I am feeling impress of God to preach on what is going wrong in the church, and I am convinced that there has been a cheap and tainted gospel being preached from the pulpits of America. Taking in languages that nobody understands, running into walls, falling out, or this thinking that once you have a knowledge of Christ victory via the Cross and believe it, then, Jesus didn't really mean, "If you love Me, keep My Commandments." No accoountability. No responsibility. Go to the spiritual supermarket, get you a can of salvation, sit back and wait for the rapture, but hey, go ahead and enjoy life while you wait. It is Jesus that brings the real kind of joy to the heart, not something man-made and/or orgistrated