Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Acts of a Suicidal Church

This summer’s big regional youth conference has been cancelled...because of "tunes".

The leader of the denominational office notified all the churches in the region that he decided to pull the plug. The reason? Conference organizers had planned to use Christian songs that did not come from the official denominational worship book. He cited church rules that require the “exclusive use of doctrinally pure agenda” and “theologically correct hymns and materials.”

So, what has been gained by the cancellation of the conference? Well, the churches’ teenagers have been protected from attending a conference and hearing songs by “unapproved” Christian composers. Instead, the kids spent the time at home listening to their usual secular songs.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case of a desperate attempt to cling to their man-made sectarian rules, relics and soapboxes. They’re in survival mode. But their actions amount to acts of institutional suicide.

Most churches in America are shrinking—some rather precipitously. Generally, the influence of the church in American culture is dimming, particularly among the younger generation.

In the face of these negative trends, many churches have taken a bunker mentality. They’ve attempted to isolate, tighten controls, lob grenades at anyone outside their bunker, dig in and clutch what’s left inside. Some believe their only chance for survival lies in brand distinctiveness. And they’re resolved to ride their quaint distinctives to the very end.

Many churches have adopted the old Kodak company mindset: “Our hope resides in clinging to what we’ve been known for, to what we’ve always done. If we don’t stand for film, what do we stand for?” Kodak forgot they were in the picture business, not the film business. Similarly, many churches have forgotten they’re in the helping-people-come-to-faith business.

Excerpt from Holy Soup by Thom Shultz.
Thom Schultz is an eclectic author and the founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. Holy Soup offers innovative approaches to ministry, and challenges the status quo of today’s church.