Thoughts on Two Services: Part 1-Style

Well, I suppose it was inevitable…our church is having discussions on worship style and the feasibility of splitting into “two services, one church.” As one who has seen firsthand what this move yields, regardless of the motivation, I’m totally against it for a number of reasons. The bottom line is simply this, no matter how much talk there may be of intentional whole-church gatherings, once the church splits into two services we will not have “two services, one church” but “two churches, one roof.” If we cannot even muster enough Christian maturity to submit mutually to one another with respect to music, why in the world should anyone think that we will demonstrate the same spirit in order to fellowship together? In short, we will not. Once the split is made, the two shall never again meet together…period. (This shall be the subject of Part 2)

A bigger and more alarming concern behind these discussions is the unmentioned church-growth idea that for churches to be faithfully carrying out the ‘Great Commission’ (Mt 28.16-20) they must be large churches. In other words, God desires big churches, and small churches simply cannot be faithful ones. Bigger means more faithful, more obedient, more able to meet people’s needs, more missional, etc.  In fact, in a lot of cases (visit Brother Joel’s church here in Houston, for example), that bigger is less faithful, less biblical, less able to provide adequate pastoral care, less able to truly impact lives, etc.  I’m not sure where this diabolical mindset came from, but it stinks and doesn’t pass an ‘idiot check’ on many levels. Oh, how the leaven of ‘church growth’ has infected contemporary American Evangelicalism!

The reason given for this push, of course, is the desire to reach 20 and 30-somethings. As has been said explicitly, “Though our church has had steady growth the past several years, very little has come from this age group…We are not effectively speaking the language of those that we most need to reach. One of the languages of this group is contemporary music.” A fatal flaw in the logic of this whole proposition is apparent here. Without too much effort, one can find statistics to show that 20 and 30-somethings have had enough of the mind-numbing drivel of contemporary worship and are flocking to Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Lutheranism, and other high church worship styles. This age group has experienced the insanity and anthro-/egocentrism of much of contemporary worship at the hands of their parents and wants to return to a much more historical Christianity that doesn’t deliberately jettison 2000 years of continuity and tradition. In most places, contemporary worship is little more than the logical me-centered conclusion of the Baby Boomer generation (has nobody really recognized this before?)…and people are starting to reject it in favor of worship with true substance. In other words, these younger people want a real traditional service, going far back beyond the typical shallow 1800’s revivalistic stuff of many ‘traditional services’ (i.e., Fanny Crosby, Gaither, etc.) to Watts, Wesley, Luther and even older hymns sung by Christians for over 1000 years. We have been starved and parched for too long in church, and people are hungry and thirsty for an encounter with God through the Word and Sacraments!

If we really want to reach the demographic we claim to want to reach, this is a move in exactly the opposite direction…but that opinion is in direct contradiction to that of the highly overpaid state ‘consultant’ who has the ear of our long-range planning folks.

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