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
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
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.