Monday, December 13, 2004

Influential moments-1

I decided I'd do a series of blogs on some of the big influential moments/experiences that have shaped the way I think about faith/mission/church/spirituality. they're in no particular order either-just as I remember them!

The first was a very short conversation I had with a kid from school who's family goes to Gateway-a big uber church up the road from Frankston. I asked him what he thought of the service, his simple reply "Oh its just like Gateway only smaller' really made me think.

I actually disagree for a lot of reasons, but at the end of the day-our basic form is the same: sermons, songs, sitting in rows. I'm not here to bag the format-it totally works for a lot of people-but not everybody, but I'll blog on that later.

Gateway do the 'attractional church' thing really well, they have slick sermons and songs, the services have a great fun atmosphere and are easy to bring people to. I don't have a problem with all of that per se.

My issue is when smaller churches look to those bigger, growing 'successful' churches and try and be like them. It just gives me the irrates. It just frustrates me as to the lack of variety that most churches offer. If people want slick sermons and songs let them go to Gateway or Hillsong or Willow Creek. But not everybody wants that, so why is that the only thing we offer them?

A lot of churches do the attractional thing well, but surely there is room for other, more varied expressions of church?


Antony Hanson said...

"In our culture we are so success-oriented that we have little understanding of the creative act. We want to know in advance that what we do will measure up and be judged acceptable. We applaud those who are successfully repeating themselves, while the innovative person is, at best, tolerated. Even if the creator should succeed, he is in difficulty because the new is threatening in that it differs from the norm." --Elizabeth O'Conner, "Eighth Day of Creation"

We are trained to repeat. To go to conferences and read books that attempt to teach us how to repeat in our churches the successes of others. Find something that "works" and do it over and over. That's the definition of success, right? The problem is that we can lose much of ourselvse in the process. Our creativity, calling, gifts and sense of adventure in the Kingdom of God all lose their potency if all we ever focus on is being a Repeater.

Could say a lot more about this but this comment is already long and there's a limit on how much I can write.

Great thought provoking post. Thanks.

Christiana said...

I know just what you're talking about. What my church does, (Hope Community Church, Cary, NC,) is they have what you're calling attractional services on Saturday Evening and Sunday morning. Then, on Wednesday evening, they have a deeper service with fewer songs and a more in-depth, sophisticated message. It's a pretty good balance, I think.

Anonymous said...

Digger I must disagree with you on "...If people want slick sermons and songs let them go to Gateway or Hillsong or Willow Creek. But not everybody wants that, so why is that the only thing we offer them?..." it's not all that is offered but in most cases it is all that is made public/or advertised. Chadstone COC doesn't offer what you mentioned it offers something different…

Isn't the 'point' about having all the different types of churches (COC, AOG, CRC, Baptise, etc) the fact that they are all different? If you like the style of Gateway then go to a Baptise Church, you can't go to a COC Church and expect it to be like a Pento Church as the structure of the Church is different in style and also where the emphasise lies within their style of service be it via worship or preaching, praying etc.

The big Churches are big because they are doing the popular thing that gets in numbers but is Christianity or even Church about the numbers in the pews???

Christop said...

I don't think there is really very much difference between the Baptist, C of C, CRC or AOG churches in my town (Ballarat).

Digger said...

Hey Christiana, thanks for checking out my blog. Yeah I've seen that approach a fair bit around, only some churches focus on small groups mid-week. Not a bad idea.

But, people's main thought of what church is will still be the Sunday service.

A church here in Melbourne, a big 'successful' church, kinda operates the other way. The mid-week small groups are the primary 'port-of-call' if you like-thats where people are invited. Then, once you become a member of the church through being in a small group, you are invited to join in the celebraation services.

I really like that approach.

Garth said...

Hey Digger, I think this series is a great one.I am looking forward to seeing what moments became foundational thoughts in your journey.

Gareth Williams said...

My catchcry for Myriad is "a different type of church for a different type of person."
There are some people who relate really well to the traditional structure, so we need to keep those going for those sorts of people (just don't expect me to run them).
But for others, who don't get that style we need to be constantly bringing the message of Jesus in a form that provokes people to dig deeper. Not for the sake of being cool or hip, but to help people understand the diversity of God.

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