Monday, September 27, 2004

On Church Growth

It turns out that if you really want to make your church grow, it is best not be too concerned about sermons, or the proper administration of the Lord’s Supper, etc. What you really need is a cool newspaper ad like those below.

Central Presbyterian Church
Celebrating God’s
Wildly Inclusive Love

Central is one of those "wildly inclusive" PCUSA churches. I’ll give you three guesses to figure out what "Wildly Inclusive Love" means. Do you give up? Here’s a hint: It is the love that dare not speak its name. I’m not kidding.

St. Matthews Baptist Church
3515 Grandview Avenue
9:30 A.M. Bible Study for all ages
10:45 A.M. Celebration Worship
"Raising Children in the 21st Century"
6:30 P.M. Praise Music & Conversational Preaching

Does anyone know what "conversational preaching" is? I suspect it is nothing we would have heard from Spurgeon or Edwards.

New Journey Church
Join us as we help you find your journey to
significance each Sunday this summer at 10:30 am

"Journey to significance?" Hmm, sounds like a Hallmark Card.

Eastern High School Auditorium
"Out By 12:00"

Glad I can be out by noon. I would hate to miss kickoff. No, really, those long thirty-minute sermons have to go.

Audubon Baptist Church
10:45 am Worship Time
What about…The Second Coming?
By Joe and Caroline French

The rapture and a mini concert? Talk about a twofer.

And more…

An article in the September 26th Louisville Courier Journal discussed a new phenomenon in American ecclesiastical life—satellite churches. Unlike congregations that start a new church and give it independence, satellite churches maintain their connection to the main church and will frequently share programs, resources, and pastors.

Not surprisingly, like every other fad in contemporary religious life, the goal is to reach the "unchurched." Funny thing about the "unchurched," the more we distort and pervert the Gospel to reach them, the more of them there are. Hmmm, odd, don’t you think?

A professor of religious studies, Philip Goff, said:

One has to stand back and look at religion as a product. If other people are offering a better product, you have to change with them. In this latte-Internet era, people like a different style of worship.

So what do these churches of "latte-Internet era" look like, anyway? The Courier Journal offers a glimpse a glimpse into one such church:

The Rev. Linda McCoy wears a pantsuit as she reads a sermon based on a Dr. Seuss book, congregants in swivel chairs munch on bagels and sip coffee, and a guitarist and drummer bang out Bob Dylan’s "Forever Young."We don’t do anything traditional if we can help it…we do Communion and we do baptisms. But we do it our way." (italics mine)

One "academic" compared these satellite churches to circuit-riding Methodist congregations of an earlier time that often shared clergyman. Apparently, there is a straight line from John Wesley to Dr. Seuss-style "purpose driven" sermons, bagels and lattes with the "praise and worship" choruses, and doing baptism and communion "our way." Sounds like a Burger King jingle, which isn’t terribly surprising if religion is just another product to be hawked in the marketplace.


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