Tuesday, May 01, 2007

How to make church more exciting

I'm working with several colleagues on a project studying deconversion--why some Christians leave the faith. We're writing it up now, and the interviews that we're studying are interesting in many ways and sometimes very funny. Here's what one former Christian said about he would change the church service.

"Church is extremely boring--like an hour long sleeping pill--and the communion crackers are like cardboard. If they gave out Oreos or something like that instead, maybe I would have stayed."

A church growth idea? ;-)

10 comments:

rbolger said...

What an exciting study -- I can't wait to see what you will come up with -- beyond chocolate communion wafers...

Brad Wright said...

Um-m-m-m, chocolate wafers is the best that we came up with...

kent said...

Where is the line between being relevant and become commercially oriented. What are we willing to do to butts in the pews? I ask this in all seriousness and not just as crabby crank who needs his coffee. All choices require sacrifices, for me the issue comes down to what are the right sacrifices and when do I go too far?

Knumb said...

I like to go to both Catholic mass and Evangelical worship services.

Oddly enough, I have a harder time fighting off boredom during the worship part of the Evangelical services than I do during the mass.

For some reason, the volume and showmanship of the worship team gets me thinking about them, the song, whether or not I will be asked to stand ("COMON PEOPLE!!!"), etc. Whereas in mass, I am more likely to be in an introspective, meditative state. But, I am an odd duck.

I read somewhere about a church for men, that has 30 minute services and no singing, or something like that. While that's not exactly what I am getting at, it does stand in contrast to the accepted models.

I would like to see a church have one of its weekly services with no worship (just silent meditation in its place) and a sermon that has a practical application point every week, or almost every week. I don't mean to say that faith is based on works, but often the 45 minute sermon I listened to has me wondering how my week ahead might change for having listened to it. If I don't walk out thinking along those lines, chances are, nothing will change; said challenges are rarely spelled out bluntly by the loquacious pastor.

Brad Wright said...

Just to be clear, I was kidding about oreos for communion. Having said that, maybe serving kids cookie and milk communion might be theologically interesting.

I completely agree, John, about the need for practical application. I used to attend a church with all theory and no application, and it drove me bonkers.

S.S.Stone said...

"relevant and commercially oriented"...interesting--today it's all about customer satisfaction and is being taken to extremes. Seems we're becoming a society that needs to be "pleased, pampered and given fringes"
True example: the other day i was in the bank -they had these flyers on the desk saying something in reference as to "what you would like to see done so you'd remain a loyal customer." I thought, "they can't be serious" - i asked kate to give me an example,she said, "one man would like us to play jazz music in here". Jazz at the bank? ..guess the banks "customer ratings" will go up when the music starts playing.

so why do many leave the faith?-boredom,laziness,but most importantly they're not being nourished, they aren't being fed - people want to hear something that they can take home with them, something they can apply to their lives-the Gospel has to hit home!

everyone is unique with different needs , some enjoy contemplative prayer while others thirst for that-> ("COMON PEOPLE!!!")approach...so now church has to offer two flavors? Are we spinning ourselves into spiritual consumerism?

Ben said...

I've pastored, preached, organized worship, etc in DC & Paris, and now I am just an attender in Nairobi. It's only here in Kenya that I really LOVE the services to the point that I hate missing Sundays. Worship is a blast!! God has to be smiling at the celebration in multiple languages. Messages are also extremely relevant to real life - what can we do about Aids, how to manage money, etc. (They didn't say anything about freezing credit cards in a block of ice, but it was very practical - and biblical in case anyone is worried.)The pastor Oscar Muriu was just interviewed in Leadership Journal definitely worth a read - available here - www.christianitytoday.com/le/2007/002/3.96.html. His speech at Urbana in Dec is here www.urbana.org/u2006.session.info.cfm?session=3.

Brad Wright said...

It sounds like you're at a great church, Ben. I'm impressed by how far you'll travel to find one!

I'm not sure what to think about tailoring churches to individuals' wants and needs. I can easily envision extremes at either end--one size fits all versus don't go to church unless it's just right.

Ben said...

I've been to a lot of great churches. I just especially love the current one. After years in leadership, I became a lot less critical than I was in my younger days.

A couple of other thoughts. Here they make it an point to try to be shapers of culture rather than just responding to consumer interests. At the same time, they've spun off several church plants, and each one intentially tries to reflect some of the social ethos of their location. i.e. the churches planted in a slum have a different ethos, but the same core values.

Brad Wright said...

Interesting idea about church shaping culture as well as adapting to it. I'll want to think about that.

As I remember, Nairobi has some pretty serious slums!