Sally Morgenthaler, author of Worship Evangelism, has recently concluded that worship-driven churches, despite their best efforts, are not attracting the unchurched. This is a complete turn-around from when she wrote her book. Her article here is filled with wonderful honesty as she acknowledges that the worship culture is often self-absorbed and the unreached are not attending these Christian “parties.”
Here are a few excerpts of note:
By 2002 a few pastors of praise and worship churches began admitting to me that they weren’t making much of a dent in the surrounding non-Christian population, even though their services were packed and they were known for the best worship production in town….
As negative attitudes toward conservative Christianity among the unchurched increased in the late 90s and early 2000s, most large-congregation growth efforts became more focused on the churched consumer, even as their written and spoken vision remained focused on the unchurched…
The upshot? For all the money, time, and effort we’ve spent on cultural relevance—and that includes culturally relevant worship—it seems that we came through the last 15 years with a significant net loss in churchgoers, proliferation of megachurches and all…
Sally goes on to describe her transition: “As culture has become incessantly more spiritual and adamantly less religious, we… have become convinced that the primary meeting place with our unchurched friends is now outside the church building.”
Yes, yes, and yes!
Imagine the millions of dollars that has gone into these worship productions with a net result of so little.
Nevertheless, lest we rest on our laurels as we smugly acknowledge that “we knew it all along,” Morgenthaler reminds us that the needed alternative is to live life with our neighbors and do the work of building relationships outside the walls. Great challenge!! Indeed, it is much easier to evaluate what is not working in church-dom, then to take steps toward “being” the living church where we live.
I really like a quote from Shane Claiborne that says it’s time to "stop complaining about the church we're disillusioned with and become the church we dream of."
You can read Sally’s entire article here.