Saturday, August 10, 2013

A vacation visit to a cool, hip, modern, with it, church

While Sharon and I were on vacation this summer we made it a point to attend worship services that we thought would  be different for us.  What you are about to read is a compilation of what we observed. We were some of the oldest people in the room in each church we visited.  As you look at the list of traits we thought were noteworthy, keep in mind that these churches are lively, regularly conduct multiple services, are apparently attracting large crowds, and going through growing pains as a result.

1.  NO PAPER - There were no what we would call bulletins, no printed orders of worship, no bulletin board with brochures about anything.  There were some index card like informational handouts, but they all referred you to the website.  I used the back of response envelopes to take notes about what we saw, three of them.

2.  NO ANNOUNCEMENTS - There was no time in the service where the upcoming events were mentioned, described, or highlighted.  Lines of communication included texting, email, or announcements on the website.

3.  NO OFFERING - We could only conclude that if you attended the church regularly you knew how to give.........if you wanted to.......

4.  CONCERT TYPE WORSHIP - The worship time was a series of songs mostly unfamiliar to us, presented in a way that made us feel like we were at a band concert, surrounded by fellow worshipers who were watching rather than outwardly participating with the professionally proficient worship band while they conducted a concert.  Tight jeans, boy band hair, swallowing the mic, and "giving it up" in applause for the band's exceptional performance were all part of the gig. The band's skill level really was exceptional.

5.  DARKNESS - The auditorium lights were out almost completely during the worship time, and during the "talk" it was a little lighter, but not enough to read along or take notes.   The stage was lit up with rotating lights, lots of theatrical type stage lighting which was used a lot during the worship time.  It was so dark that when we first arrived we were personally escorted into the room, and led to a seat.  Without that escort we would not have known where worship was taking place, nor would our eyes have been adjusted enough to navigate to a seat.  All of these elements are deliberate choices made for a specific reason by a leadership team of some sort.

6.  EMPHASIS ON TECHNOLOGY - The room probably seated three hundred people, yet had 6 projectors illuminating the entire front of the meeting room.  The band had all the latest gadgets, the website was mentioned repeatedly, and the whole service was visually busy.  This event they kept calling an experience was no doubt a lot of work to put together every week.

7.  A GADGET GUY ON FULL TIME STAFF - In each case there was a media/computer person dealing with the gadgets and production who was part of the full time staff.  The emphasis on media no doubt gave these people plenty to do, and illustrated that if you are going to make a production like this every week, volunteers alone would not do the job.

8.  LOTS OF "VISION CASTING" -   Here is where we are headed, here is how you can give financially or with your time to fulfilling the vision given to the pastor.  There was a strong emphasis on the pastor hearing from God and passing "God's" agenda on to the rest of the people.

So, as you look at this list, what are the priorities you see highlighted here?  What is not listed?  What priorities listed here are important to you?  This isn't about what I think is right or wrong, but "what is" in these churches we visited.  How does this list match up with what you think is important?

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