I have written often how I am always looking for interesting items to bring into the Pew and this week trolling through Facebook I found one. A pastor I greatly admire shared a blog that I found to be interesting and timely. I introduce to you Carey Nieuwhof. He is the founding and teaching pastor of Connexus Church north of Toronto Canada. His web address is ( https://careynieuwhof.com ) and I encourage you to take the time to go there. He has for the past three years started the New Year off with a series on Disruptive Church Trends to look for in the coming year. Starting with 2016 and following up with ’17 and ’18 he has listed a total of eighteen of these trends for these three years. In my blog October 17 of this year I wrote about “The Culture Trap” that the church seems to have fallen victim to. Mr Nieuwhof does not despair at the church of today and certainly does not play the gloom and doom card. Again, it’s worth taking the time to read his blog. “From The Pew……” is just that, a layman writing about things people in the pew talk about or I perceive to be a point of interest. With that in mind join me as I share a layman’s view of the church today.
The digital world we live in today allows us information on most anything we wish to examine or learn and you can bury yourself in polls, numbers and opinions, which you find to support your position. These thoughts are mine sitting here in the pew. First of all there is no doubt in my mind that what drives the church today, is the culture it inhabits. Why do you suppose that is? I find Mr. Nieuwhof comment from his 2016 Blog to be reasonable.
“Irrelevance happens when change inside the church is slower than the change outside the church.”
All churches today are struggling to remain relevant in a world that is consumed with the acquisition of “stuff”and being a part of “what’s happening”. Church has become a matter of convenience. Gone are the days of the simple church play, choir presentations and the special services we are accustomed to at the holidays and other religious observances. The larger the church is the larger the presentation. They take on the presence of a professional production. My next statement is an observation of mine not necessarily the norm, you be the judge. People today want to be entertained, the norm is not what they are looking for. This attitude carries over into their expectations toward worship. “Mega Churches” are pointed out as an example of the power of good programs that draw the people in and a great Pastor with an amazing vision of the future of how to “do church”. It is rare when you hear the question “is it a Gospel preaching church?” Most often the questions are about the services offered. Do you have nursery, is there pre-school, what about a family life center? These are just a few of the questions and seldom do I hear concerns or questions about the biblical beliefs or positions of doctrinal beliefs. Truth is, one of the trends of recent years has been less of a denominational relationship and more of a “what do you offer” in services that work for my family. Here is an interesting point offered by Mr. Nieuwhof. “Consumer Christianity Will Die Faster Than Ever, if your church is still defined by what you ‘offer’ members, the clock is ticking faster than ever.” That is from his blog at the first of 2017.
He also mentions several distractions that compete with church. I mention youth sports programs because I have personally seen that up close and personal. Many Sunday mornings as we drove to church we would pass by the local high school’s sports complex. In the season many a time there would be a game being played and to be fair, these were make-up games that were scheduled to cover weather related cancellations. Mid-week services or special classes were low in attendance because of school related activities or team practices or even special social or organization meetings. Before we move on please take note that I am not judging any of these things but I do acknowledge that they have an effect on “doing church” so to speak. Here’s another little nugget from the “Trend shelf” and is in my opinion a big one. Engagement:
“Only The Most Engaged And The Curious Will Attend, church leaders, if you want to raise attendance, raise engagement”.
I might offer a different way of saying that. Get into the teaching of the gospel , seek engagement of people to the power of the Holy Spirit and living a Holy life.
I am from the old school and admittedly set in my ways but I have come to the opinion that the church has to find a way to engage the culture of connivence that marginalizes today’s church. We must create an environment that gives people a reason “to do church”. We need to remove the convenience factor and replace it with a desire to be part of the mission to bring the gospel to all people. I don’t agree with all of what Mr. Nieuwhof writes but I think his thoughts are worthy of serious consideration. If we don’t change inside, to go outside with a purpose and a plan that fits today’s needs, we will fail to fulfill The Great Commission.
Here is a thought I hope you will consider. Change is necessary in the way we “do church” but it should never change the intent of God’s word to fit the culture of the day.
Life is Good