Some Gnarly Thoughts On Trendy Church

So Different Yet Little Change

I sat in a church service Sunday ( a church I don’t normally attend), and wondered. With much that was edifying and Christ-honoring, there was also so much to wonder about, really. It’s not that I sat IN wonder, awed by the beauty and solemnity of God’s presence. It was more the wonder of my own confusion or lostness. I wondered about church becoming a “free-for-all,” try-to-make-everyone-comfortable, innovation-is-priority, prove-a-point, drive-an-agenda experience. 

Rhonda attended a church a couple weeks ago where “self-expression” was king. Every singer had a solo. People were literally dancing in the aisles. Those on the platform were jumping up and down along with many from the audience. The hair, the clothes, the “look” said, “I’m a hip, trendy, relevant Christian. Follow me.” Self-congratualatory stories were given to prove God’s power and one’s piety. How has the church become such a place of self-promotion, self-expression, self-interest, and self-pleasing? 

3 Competitors 

The success of the service is measured by how it makes me feel. It is a “good” service because it makes me feel good. 

The success of the service is measured by how much new information I receive. It is a good service because I learn something new. 

The success of the service is measured by how creative it is. It is a good service because new, innovative activities are implemented. 

God has been knocked off His throne replaced by Feelings, Information, and Innovation. I sadly wonder. 

Everything Different, Nothing Changes

Have church services become so boring that they must be constantly tweaked to make them interesting and relevant? 

I know what I’m talking about because about 30 years ago I did something similar. Radical differences in our church and morning worship service were implemented. Music became modernized. Small groups replaced Sunday School. Guitars replaced the organ. Casual became the norm. Screens went up, pulpit came down. Novel creativity replaced stale traditions. 

At the time I thought we were pioneering fresh ideas. It turned out we were simply becoming like everyone else. 

So much different yet very little change. 

It makes me wonder. 

Dr. K 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

2 thoughts on “Some Gnarly Thoughts On Trendy Church

  1. Wow, LOL! You really dove in today. I wondered how this past Sunday had impacted you.

    I mulled over and sought the Lord over your writings today. Based on scripture and my philosophy of the reason for meeting together as God’s people in community, I agree with you in premise and – very much – in practice.

    The celebration glorification of ‘self’ in corporate (often too ‘corporate’) and private worship is a grand trap, no doubt. The assessment of a ‘worship service’ as to how I ‘feel’ when I leave sometimes outweighs whether I have met with God – or not. But, I often leave church ‘feeling’ encouraged, uplifted, challenged, convicted, joyful, educated…all kinds of feelings that are positive and even Godly – in my experience and in my belief.

    The ways that my church celebrates the Sabbath on Sundays is possibly – if not probably – affected by cultural norms and the desire to be relevant and ‘with it’. It is rarely a conscious desire or motive and often – if not usually – a modus operandi, yet I get ‘creative’ often. Do we get it right all the time? No. Is it our desire to do it in a God-honoring manner? YES! Resoundingly, YES!!!

    As a staff, we rarely analyze whether or not we are being ‘relevant’ or cutting edge. I personally eschew replicating what popular worship leaders and other churches are doing. I just do what we do, doing what I can to lead others to worship God or at least know that He is present with us.

    Knowing the journey that you have been on the past 30 years, I appreciate the observations in your rear-view mirror! Your challenges are something that I appreciate and take in as fully as I know how. I look forward to further exploration of this with you – if the Spirit leads you to do so.

    I will say that my journey of faith in the past year has affected the way that I lead worship. Thank you for your direct contribution in that journey!

    • Hey Greg. I so appreciate your good spirit. In your life and ministry, I think you are doing a very good thing. You seem to be on a good path personally and as a worship leader. The self/ego can play tricks on us in every area of our lives. It gets really dicey when it comes to church stuff. Usually we don’t or can’t see how our ego is at work in our worship. Rarely is our ego challenged. In fact, it’s usually coddled and esteemed. In reality, a liturgical service (as opposed to a “free,” spontaneous, or non-liturgical service) challenges our self-expression and actually, self-anything. I appreciate your thoughts on “feelings.” We (me included) often rely on our feelings because we have come up short in actually, experientially knowing God in worship. Knowing God is not essentially an emotional experience. It is more wholistic – body, soul, heart, mind, relationships. The emotions are present but not elevated. The physical body (apart from self-expression) and the material have been almost exclusively removed from evangelical worship. Passivity is expected. Stand, sing, sit, listen. Anyway, thanks for engaging the thoughts of a gnarly old man. I appreciate you! Keith

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