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Old words

28 March, 2003 4:15 PM

Rachel found an old thing I posted on a previous church online discussion (scarey how the net records your every word even from other places and times!!!) I thought it was interesting to see some of the earliest things I was working through when it came to 'Church' - its actually not that different from what I feel today - here it is...

I'm a strong believer in 'church' I think its an awesome thing when
operating in a relevant way to its culture. The church has been an
amazing place of growth into wholeness for me and many of my family and
friends. Its a place that I love dearly because it is where I met Jesus
- the one who authored and perfected life!

However, I've had an increasing frustration with the church in Australia in
that I wonder if its really being and doing what it should!

Studies show that 85% of Australians believe in God, over 66% pray
regularly and over 60% believe in some type of afterlife - yet less that
20% attend any type of church regularly. (figures for 1999 - talking
with people in the know it seems that this 20% figure is continuing to

Exit polls of those leaving the church have found that the major reasons
that bring about this decrease in numbers is not because of theological
or belief issues. Rather it is about how people are being asked to
belong to and participate in the community that is the deciding factor
for them. So much of what we DO in church is so foreign to such a large
part of our society. How many of our non churched friends would
regularly gather with a group of people to sing for 30 minutes and
listen to someone give a 20minute (plus) monologue?!? Many of us who
have been brought up in this environment have come to love singing and
listening, but not too many of the young people I work with in the
warehouse at wishlist would get off on it!

Studies have shown that only 10% of the non churched population are
comfortable with and open to 'contemporary worship' style services. (ie
Hillsong style singing - preaching etc). Yet the same study shows that
up to 90% of churches are moving towards this type of service. By my
calculations that leaves around 90% of the unchurched population without
a church presenting the message of Jesus in a culturally relevant method
for them.

I believe that the time has come where the church needs to seriously
face the fact that if it continues down its current path that it will
find itself in serious trouble. The time has come for a variety of
models of church to emerge. This will and should include the
'contemporary worship' model similar to our services, but it
should also include a myriad of others that attempt to present the
person of Jesus to our multicultural society.



It's the 80/20 rule almost isn't it? 80% of the church providing something for 20% of the population. I think the reason behind this is because of the 80% of the $$ that comes in from providing such services. 'Contemporary Worship' doesn't meet people where they are at. The church performs something on a Sunday morning to help people worship God in a current and cool style. Unfortunately, that still doesn't solve the heart problems of 80% of the population. Nor does it provide any definition or explanation of who God is. They are simply colorful songs performed in colorful buildings by colorful musicians to people who still haven't got it. So the other 80% think the 20% are irrelevant, and quite frankly, ignorant.

The church has wasted so much time trying to figure out how to be cool enough for the world to want to come to them rather than going into the world and loving it. Unfortunately, 80% of them would say I'm wrong.

Regan » 28 March, 2003 10:12 PM

Hi Darren,

I'm sure u know that I would normally go along with your ideas on church and the need for a variety of models. However...

Thinking about that contemporary worship thing as an example, someone (Todd? McClaren?) once said that if they came to England to watch a Cricket Game they wouldn't expect everyone to play Baseball rules just so they could understand it. Should 'seekers' really 'get' church the way so mnay of us are desperate for them to do?

As long as the Sunday service isn't all we're doing as church - and as long as there is an element of that that is sensitive (e.g. prophecy in 1 Cor. 14) - does it really matter if they don't 'get' what we do?

graham » 29 March, 2003 9:32 PM

I hear where you are coming from. I've always had this tension within me.

I guess I'm not advocating we totally change the core of what we do as church - however I think we can change method to make it more accessible.

To take your Cricket analogy (perhaps too far) you might look at how the game has been adapted over the past decade or two to make it more accessible to a wider proportion of the population. The core tenants of cricket remain (hit spherical piece of leather with wooden stick - overs are 6 balls - hit it over the boundary get 6 runs etc) - however the method is different. (one day games, different uniforms, big video screens etc) These changes have drawn a new portion of the population to love the game of Cricket.

I don't think we should scrap worship, or prayer or preaching - but rather wonder if there is a way of bringing greater variety into what we do to make it more accessible.

I think we've already done this - for example contemporary worship itself came into being out of an increasing amount of people struggling with hymns. Alot of what we do today in services is quite different to what the early church did - why? - to make it more relevent.

I take your point that people coming to our gatherings do not neccissarily always have to 'get it' - but I wonder if we can enrich their and our experience of church by trying some new methodology.

Just my opinion at this point in my journey - interested to keep the discussion going.

Darren » 30 March, 2003 10:44 AM

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