tired-contemporary

This week’s bad church sign says:

TIRED OF CONTEMPORARY?

COME TRY US.

I don’t know what town this is.  I’m unsure of what church this is.  But I know the situation exactly.  Want me to paint the picture?

It’s in the Bible belt.  It’s in a city where there is a lot of transfer growth.  Sheep hopping from flock to flock.  There is one (or more) churches who have grown recently due to a contemporary service or flavor.  Some of them are traditional existing churches that have turned more and more contemporary over the years.

The church in the picture has lost some members due to that fact.  In an effort to lure people into their flock, they use an advertising campaign for anyone passing by.  But the ad is not for just anyone, is it?  Read it.  Is it for church people or unchurched people?

It’s for churched people of course.  Outsiders don’t even know what a contemporary is in the context that us regulars understand it to be.  This church is appealing to members of another flock.  Actually, they are appealing to disgruntled members of other flocks in hoping that those worn out with the 20 minutes of contemporary worship music within a week’s time (which is .1% of the 10,080 minutes we are called to be the church all week long) will now join their flock.  Let’s gather a group of disgruntled sheep in hopes that all their hopes and preferences will be met at our church house.

That’s a flock full of quite the dynamics, I would say.

This sign reveals a bunch about the state of the American Church today:

  • If the last 5 people you invited to church already were a part of another church, you, and possibly your church, do not really care about lost people.  Regardless of the church’s style, I am literally flabbergasted living in the Bible Belt at how churches grow solely on transfer growth.  Contemporary or traditional, seeker-sensitive or member-driven, so many churches only reach out to those who have already been reached.  We hear great numbers of attendance or baptisms only to find out from the stats at large that these are the same people just changing locations.  If you and your church really care about lost people, go and find some and share the gospel.  Stop trying to grow your little “c” church with members of the big “C” Church.
  • Worship is supposed to unite to glorify God and not divide to glorify self.  I have said it before, and I will say it again: Worship is a big thing, but when we focus on the style over the worship itself, we are in danger of idolatry.  How much is music a part of the church?  Anywhere to 15-30 minutes a week.  If you do the math, that means that .1% of your church’s activities is music, and yet in many places, that is what gets the most focus – positive or negative.Whatever church you are a part of, let me encourage you: Do not let 100% of your identity be determined by .1% of your activity.
  • Whatever reaches them, keeps them.  If you have to use something to attract someone to your church, that is what you will have to keep giving to keep them.  It might be a children’s program, a great musical extravaganza, smoke and lights, choirs and pipes, juicy sermon topics, whatever it is, if that is what you bait them with, with that you will have to continue to feed them.  Don’t bait and switch people out there.  “Come to our church, we will make it all about meeting your preferences.”  And then as soon as you have them, the message changes: “It’s not about you.  Get over your preferences.  Take up your cross and follow Jesus.”  It simply doesn’t work.  You will create a church full of people still needing their itches scratched and never move past it.

Big “C” Church, instead of relying on someone to “come try” our version of little “c” church, let’s focus on reaching people with the gospel and letting the power of God change them.  And let’s stop catering to our preferences.  Signed, a recovering addict of making church all about me.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.