Today, our attention is drawn to things done “the big way”. We respond to ideas planned by media people to gain our attention; often by being outrageously overstated, or elaborately visual.
There is no doubt that it works for many things. My focus for this writing is to look at churches and their changes over the years. One would think that churches would continue to lead, as they have for centuries, in the way that God had declared “The same yesterday, today and forever”. And, the Word, while subject to interpretation, is in no need for revision.
Today revisionism has taken over much of our society. The reference to our Constitution being ” A living, breathing instrument” has allowed for major changes in original intent. This would lend to the thinking that fundamental religious principles may be likewise subject to possible review of God’s intent and their inviolate nature be tempered.
If the Bible were framed in the same manner as current legislation, with endless verbiage, it would fill an entire library. Yet, it is a relatively small book. In the way that government has become too large, it may well be that churches are going down the same road. Their attempt to reach out and grow has pushed them into the “entertainment business” where they are rated, by some, in terms of their showmanship and their efforts to keep pace with contemporary values and objectives.
While early church outreach focused upon neighborhood and fairly static membership, the “church” today feels committed to a broader outreach in the form of missions, and is more susceptible to turnover. Some have dropped their branch designation, moving to a more universal image that define the church as conservative, or orthodox, or whatever.
One cannot fault churches who would expand their outreach, but the level of accommodation can be bothersome for some…especially the traditional mindsets who love the predictability, even ritual, in the services.
Other churches find the balance between the two. One might use a hymnal and feature a choir. Another might adhere to “Sunday dress”…. others might dress, even patronizingly, in jeans and shorts.
God may not be into any of these distinctions, but people are, and it affects their choices; even their continued attendance.
There is no question that dress and music style have changed to mimic the age and interests of the bigger market. The music is louder and more repetitious. The lyrics and biblical references are posted on the big screen. The hymnals have been set aside.. Some of these changes have engaged new and younger visitors and members. Those changes have caused some ‘traditionalists” to seek other options.
Because of my travels in business, and with my Witness Group ministry, and my commitment to attend church wherever I am; I have experienced many different church services, mega and mini.
We would ask, as the most important inquiry: “Where might God’s heart lie?” Certainly the works of Jesus were largely one-on-one. He found it difficult to deal with huge crowds, opting to build disciples and witnesses to carry His message.
Those churches who choose to try to be effective in their own neighborhood have my respect. I attend a “Mega Church” having watched to grow for many years.
More and more I find the small community pastors work to be compelling. Their hands-on approach as they watch God work more in their own neighborhood has to be fulfilling to all. While they may have missions, their charity begins at home. Heaven knows it is more cost effective and easier to judge results.
One day I will dress up, hymnal in hand, ready for responsive reading and go back to my roots….. but that’s old me……. you know what works for you.
In any case, God will be the same size………..
Won’t He ?