Again, from the book I just finished called And: The Gathered and Scattered Church, by Hugh Halter & Matt Smay, which, by the way, is well worth the $2.99 that Amazon’s charging for the Kindle edition. I’d suggest it’s worth the time of anyone who is interested in looking at the problems of the suburban megachurch from a very balanced perspective (and it admits the flaws of their own ways of thinking as well, so it’s isn’t unloving at all.) as well as some interesting alternatives to help a megachurch gain some traction.
Without further adieu, here are some mind vitamins to get the brain going today…
On the reality that young people don’t stay with brands, companies, churches, etc. anymore:
Today, people under the age of forty have little of this sense of loyalty. To some people this may sound discouraging, but I believe this value of loyalty to an institution is being replaced with something better…Loyalty in these ways simply doesn’t make sense. The new value is meaning.
On the nature of what people are really looking for in a church, and how it should be about more:
A while back, assimilators touted that people make a decision about whether or not they’ll come back to a church within the first ninety seconds of their visit. So we work hard to make sure that our greeters are friendly and our music is appropriate, and the coffee is nice and hot so that we won’t lose people right away. Granted, there may be some sociological factors behind all this, and most assuredly Jesus wouldn’t have said, ‘Go out of your way to make people feel awkward and uncomfortable.’ But we need to realize that this line of thinking is really about the church service and whether or not people may come back to our service again. It does not, however, determine whether or not someone actually wants to follow Christ. It only addresses whether they want to get up the next week, put on nice clothes, and drive back to our church. If that’s not the primary goal, then perhaps focusing on assimilation is the wrong approach.
On the reality that the main Sunday service of “announcements, singing, special/giving, sermon, song” hinders our definition of “worship” and our actions show that:
Everywhere people are gathered there is an opportunity to to expand our notion of worship. Yes, singing together is still a meaningful experience for a large section of the existing church population, but you’ll find that as your church reaches deeper and deeper into the culture, this experience will be perceived as weird for some and nice for others, but surely not the most important reason they gather in a church service. Use this as an opportunity to expand their understanding of worship forms as well as participating in worship as a lifestyle.
And, finally, on helping churches get ready for the future:
Let me give you a few hints as to things that the next generation church leaders probably don’t want or need from you: your building (if it carries a big mortgage), your debt, the unchurched culture’s present level of disrespect and disdain for the church, and your parishioners’ apathetic consumer tendencies. Younger leaders don’t want our iron-clad denominational loyalties, outdated ministerial code of ethics, insensitive and unrealistic success measurements, or lengthy academic requirements that make them put real life and ministry on hold for a paper degree. They won’t have much use for our massive wood pulpits, our pews, our individualistic communion trays, or our choir robes.
But here’s what they do want from us: they will want your Bible commentaries and some use of your buildings, as long as it doesn’t carry a lot of cost or control of their lives. Other than that, and a little cash, what they want most is your expertise, your mentoring, your encouragement, and a chance to hear the stories that will inform and inspire their leadership roles. They wand tangible memories of how you modeled sacrifice, humility, teachability, risk, and courage in the face of ecclesial pressure. They want to be inspired by how you gave away ministry, prestige and power. They want to be entrusted with levels of responsibility that make them desperate for God’s help. They want freedom to invent new ways of cultural engagement, discipleship, and teaching without being belittled when they fail. They wnat you to trust them to know how to reach their own generation. In short, they want a concerned but nurturing coach and someone after whom they can pattern their faith and leadership.
Well, that should get your brain going…have a cup of joe and join the discussion, patrons!