From Nancy Beach's BLOG ... describing the context for the post.
[b]Courage to Define Reality and Face Results[/b]
The most controversial and unnerving session of this past Junes Arts Conference at Willow was one in which author and pastor Dan Kimball first shared insights from his book, They Like Jesus, But Not the Church, and then a panel of church leaders wrestled with some of Dans findings and with the future of the church. Our main focus was the weekend gatherings, when the church comes together, and what needs to change going forward. We tried to cover too many subjects, and longed for more time to hear the perceptions of our excellent panelists and the interaction with the attenders. But through the wonders of blogging, our conversation can continue.
During the panel discussion, Sally Morgenthaler challenged us to consider her point of view that worship evangelism, which she advocated and wrote a book about in the mid 90s, is not effectively penetrating our culture. I admire Sally for her courage, especially her willingness to revisit some of her own assumptions which have defined what she was always known for. Sallys words probably raised the blood pressure of a lot of arts leaders, because the thought of starting over, trying to define a new paradigm and possibly abandoning a lot of our current practices is both daunting and disconcerting. Besides, arent most Christians fairly satisfied with the state of corporate worship?
As I continue to reflect on these vital issues for the local church, including my own, I am reminded of the words of our pastor Bill Hybels, who says that part of a leaders most important job is to define reality. Are we really willing to look objectively at our individual church communities and ask these kinds of questions:
Are truly non-churched people really showing up in any significant percentage at our church on Sunday mornings?
How many of our visitors or new attenders are actually Christians who have transplanted from another church?
For those who truly are not yet in the faith and who come on Sunday, what is their level of engagement with the church service, specifically the parts of the service outside the sermon/teaching time?
What is the reaction and response of non-churched people to the forms of communication we employ in our churches to our music, our spoken words, our visual communication, our videos, our drama or our dance? Are we communicating with relevance, cultural sensitivity, authenticity, creativity, and excellence?
Sally asserted that much of Christian worship music all sounds the same, and is distinctly different from the direction of secular music. Do you agree? If it is true, what does this mean and should this change?
How much are most non-believers actually drawn into extended times of congregational singing (what we often call worship)? Are we limiting ourselves too much to music as an art form?
I could go on, but these are just a few of the questions bouncing around in my head and heart these days. We would love to hear your thoughts and comments. All of us are trying to figure out how to build up believers AND extend ourselves to those not yet in Gods family. We wont all land in the same place. But do we have the courage to ask the questions, challenge our own status quo, and face the truth about what is and is not really taking place on Sunday mornings? I for one dont want to duck my head in the sand, pretend these issues are not real, and simply coast on what weve always done that seems fairly acceptable to most Christians already in the fold. The kingdom will not advance unless pastors and arts leaders boldly ask these kinds of questions. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and a spirit of discovery together as the wider community of faith, I believe we can make progress
I believe we must. In too many places, business as usual is not working. There, I said it. What do you think?