The church is more than a marketed venue: The limiting culture of cool and relevant

In our age of marketing, faith seems to act as a commodity like any other product sold. If evangelizing at a large event, good looking athletes and talented performers share the stage with gifted communicators. The lighting is decent. In fact, the production value at a lot of houses of worship of even modest size rivals those of the average club or music venue.

Are we just putting on a venue to market and display Christianity or are we creating a community of faith and simply expressing it? In order to market, our church may have to say basically what they are not and why they are better. This may not be overt in the copy on our website, but of course messages are sent by what we do as well as what we say. In a church leadership vibe today that tries to be too cool, we might be defining ourselves more by what we are not rather than who we are.

A lot of the seeker sensitive church plants of the 80s and 90s were an open protest to not be what everything else was at the time. Now, this was not nor is not an entirely bad thing given how many churches failed to reach their communities. However, that very attitude while spawning some very effective ministries may have also presented a culture we will have a hard time shedding.

It is more than wearing thick dark-rimmed glasses and designer-cut jeans as you deliver a sermon. But, that could be part of it. The classic youth group culture where everything is better for the kids because it is not like what their parents experience is now the norm for everyone in the church. In the youth group, an arguably dying ministry trend, a group is celebrated because they are allowed to be different. They use a fun translation of the Bible. They have their own music. And, if a church can afford the program, they have their own room, building and house band. Sounds like big church today, does it not?

With more than one generation grown up in a youth group, we now have services designed by the level of volume, how many hymns are sung and what kind of coffee will be served. You can get video piped in to a closer location to where you live. I have launched these types of venues, and think there surely is value to them. But, should the goal be to make church so tailored to me that I feel comfortable? After all, Sunday morning is the most racially segregated hour of the week. Why make that issue worse?

In our endeavor to be cool and relevant and hit people with that marketing sweet spot, we need to put marketing in its proper place. It is a tool, not a function of ministry. This is true of our buildings and organizational structures as well. When we let our tools determine our function rather than support who we are we lose church being church to some degree.

Some questions to ponder:

  1. If your church were to be hit with a huge natural disaster, what would still survive as far as programming and why? (For instance, would small groups, youth, etc. still exist?)
  2. There is a tension between creating a venue for a targeted audience to connect with and calling people to be fully committed disciples of Jesus. How should this tension be managed?
  3. It is possible for our tools to overshadow our function to make disciples. How do we keep our passion for the tools from being greater than our passion to be the church?
  4. What is better? To pragmatically deal with how people are different in age, race and culture or to try to create a church environment where the tensions of these and other things can exist under one roof? How does one decide which value is best?
  5. What do you think about the term “relevant” as is used today in church leadership circles? What ministry value are we proclaiming when we choose to use it or not to use it? (No offense to a magazine with that title, by the way.)
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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

80 comments

  1. *Standing Ovation* well said Sir. Well Said sir. Let me answer your questions and then share some extra thoughts.
    1. I am involved in a new Church plant, just over 6 months old. If we were hit with a natural disaster here in Lawrence, KS. This is what would remain: Worship, Prayer, and the Greeters. Many of the staff in this church are trained in disaster response, grief counseling, and are just loving people. So in the event of a disaster we would be reaching out to hurting people. I ma the worship leader, and our ministry has a strong emphasis on Worshiping the Lord. In the midst of the crisis we would be praising, worshiping, and praying becuase We believe that when we worship, we call his presence down just as in Chr. 5. His presence can be an even more powerful comforter and healer than we can, so we keep his presence.

    2. We have 2 main “services” I dislike that word. Friday night is our Wild service, it is much more ‘charismatic’ and different. We celebrate Shabbat and we pursue God with everything. Our Sunday Morning gathering is more traditional. We have good worship, and preaching, and the altar time, but we tend to be more reserved because this meeting is geared to reaching out to visitors and guests who might not be christian, or may not be as passionate and wild and might be uncomfortable with the Shabbat service. We also have a Bible College here at the church meeting on monday nights. Everyone is free to attend, but if you do not pay the tuition you will not get the degree when we finish the full curriculum. We are building our full evangelism and discipleship ministry and are doing more outreach now that we have people prepared and trained to help with it. 

    3. This is a tough question, but the short answer is by staying in the presence of God. If we are with him, he guides us and leads us. He shows us when things are becoming idols, and hindering the work of the Kingdom. Its when we stop relying on him and his presence that we lose focus, lean on our tools, and become Idolaters. 

    4. I think there is a need for both. We need youth ministry, because it reaches the youth on a level that they need, but at the same time, I think we need to be willing to integrate the youth into our adult church as well. If we simply separate them then they do not feel valued in the body and do not work with the rest of the church. We need to help everyone feel needed and valued in the church.

    5. I think the term is utter bullocks. What is relevant today is not relevant by the time you implement it, because relevancy is relative to an ever changing and often fickle culture. I could give examples of this, but I will be nice.  

    I think this is a great blog, but rather than relevance I think we need to be real. Real People, Real Passion, Real Purpose, Real. I think people want to encounter something real and though something is relevant it loses its flavor fast once we realize how fake it is. Humanity needs something that is real and that Lasts. I will stop now becuase any more and It might as well be a blog post on my website because I am getting as long as your original thought. Well in Rich. Well in!

    1. Thanks Matt..I love “…but rather than relevance I think we need to be real. Real People, Real Passion, Real Purpose, Real”

  2. *Standing Ovation* well said Sir. Well Said sir. Let me answer your questions and then share some extra thoughts.
    1. I am involved in a new Church plant, just over 6 months old. If we were hit with a natural disaster here in Lawrence, KS. This is what would remain: Worship, Prayer, and the Greeters. Many of the staff in this church are trained in disaster response, grief counseling, and are just loving people. So in the event of a disaster we would be reaching out to hurting people. I ma the worship leader, and our ministry has a strong emphasis on Worshiping the Lord. In the midst of the crisis we would be praising, worshiping, and praying becuase We believe that when we worship, we call his presence down just as in Chr. 5. His presence can be an even more powerful comforter and healer than we can, so we keep his presence.
    2. We have 2 main “services” I dislike that word. Friday night is our Wild service, it is much more ‘charismatic’ and different. We celebrate Shabbat and we pursue God with everything. Our Sunday Morning gathering is more traditional. We have good worship, and preaching, and the altar time, but we tend to be more reserved because this meeting is geared to reaching out to visitors and guests who might not be christian, or may not be as passionate and wild and might be uncomfortable with the Shabbat service. We also have a Bible College here at the church meeting on monday nights. Everyone is free to attend, but if you do not pay the tuition you will not get the degree when we finish the full curriculum. We are building our full evangelism and discipleship ministry and are doing more outreach now that we have people prepared and trained to help with it. 
    3. This is a tough question, but the short answer is by staying in the presence of God. If we are with him, he guides us and leads us. He shows us when things are becoming idols, and hindering the work of the Kingdom. Its when we stop relying on him and his presence that we lose focus, lean on our tools, and become Idolaters. 
    4. I think there is a need for both. We need youth ministry, because it reaches the youth on a level that they need, but at the same time, I think we need to be willing to integrate the youth into our adult church as well. If we simply separate them then they do not feel valued in the body and do not work with the rest of the church. We need to help everyone feel needed and valued in the church.
    5. I think the term is utter bullocks. What is relevant today is not relevant by the time you implement it, because relevancy is relative to an ever changing and often fickle culture. I could give examples of this, but I will be nice.  
    I think this is a great blog, but rather than relevance I think we need to be real. Real People, Real Passion, Real Purpose, Real. I think people want to encounter something real and though something is relevant it loses its flavor fast once we realize how fake it is. Humanity needs something that is real and that Lasts. I will stop now becuase any more and It might as well be a blog post on my website because I am getting as long as your original thought. Well in Rich. Well in!

    1. Thanks Matt..I love “…but rather than relevance I think we need to be real. Real People, Real Passion, Real Purpose, Real”

  3. *Standing Ovation* well said Sir. Well Said sir. Let me answer your questions and then share some extra thoughts.
    1. I am involved in a new Church plant, just over 6 months old. If we were hit with a natural disaster here in Lawrence, KS. This is what would remain: Worship, Prayer, and the Greeters. Many of the staff in this church are trained in disaster response, grief counseling, and are just loving people. So in the event of a disaster we would be reaching out to hurting people. I ma the worship leader, and our ministry has a strong emphasis on Worshiping the Lord. In the midst of the crisis we would be praising, worshiping, and praying becuase We believe that when we worship, we call his presence down just as in Chr. 5. His presence can be an even more powerful comforter and healer than we can, so we keep his presence.

    2. We have 2 main “services” I dislike that word. Friday night is our Wild service, it is much more ‘charismatic’ and different. We celebrate Shabbat and we pursue God with everything. Our Sunday Morning gathering is more traditional. We have good worship, and preaching, and the altar time, but we tend to be more reserved because this meeting is geared to reaching out to visitors and guests who might not be christian, or may not be as passionate and wild and might be uncomfortable with the Shabbat service. We also have a Bible College here at the church meeting on monday nights. Everyone is free to attend, but if you do not pay the tuition you will not get the degree when we finish the full curriculum. We are building our full evangelism and discipleship ministry and are doing more outreach now that we have people prepared and trained to help with it. 

    3. This is a tough question, but the short answer is by staying in the presence of God. If we are with him, he guides us and leads us. He shows us when things are becoming idols, and hindering the work of the Kingdom. Its when we stop relying on him and his presence that we lose focus, lean on our tools, and become Idolaters. 

    4. I think there is a need for both. We need youth ministry, because it reaches the youth on a level that they need, but at the same time, I think we need to be willing to integrate the youth into our adult church as well. If we simply separate them then they do not feel valued in the body and do not work with the rest of the church. We need to help everyone feel needed and valued in the church.

    5. I think the term is utter bullocks. What is relevant today is not relevant by the time you implement it, because relevancy is relative to an ever changing and often fickle culture. I could give examples of this, but I will be nice.  

    I think this is a great blog, but rather than relevance I think we need to be real. Real People, Real Passion, Real Purpose, Real. I think people want to encounter something real and though something is relevant it loses its flavor fast once we realize how fake it is. Humanity needs something that is real and that Lasts. I will stop now becuase any more and It might as well be a blog post on my website because I am getting as long as your original thought. Well in Rich. Well in!

    1. Thanks Matt..I love “…but rather than relevance I think we need to be real. Real People, Real Passion, Real Purpose, Real”

  4. *Standing Ovation* well said Sir. Well Said sir. Let me answer your questions and then share some extra thoughts.
    1. I am involved in a new Church plant, just over 6 months old. If we were hit with a natural disaster here in Lawrence, KS. This is what would remain: Worship, Prayer, and the Greeters. Many of the staff in this church are trained in disaster response, grief counseling, and are just loving people. So in the event of a disaster we would be reaching out to hurting people. I ma the worship leader, and our ministry has a strong emphasis on Worshiping the Lord. In the midst of the crisis we would be praising, worshiping, and praying becuase We believe that when we worship, we call his presence down just as in Chr. 5. His presence can be an even more powerful comforter and healer than we can, so we keep his presence.

    2. We have 2 main “services” I dislike that word. Friday night is our Wild service, it is much more ‘charismatic’ and different. We celebrate Shabbat and we pursue God with everything. Our Sunday Morning gathering is more traditional. We have good worship, and preaching, and the altar time, but we tend to be more reserved because this meeting is geared to reaching out to visitors and guests who might not be christian, or may not be as passionate and wild and might be uncomfortable with the Shabbat service. We also have a Bible College here at the church meeting on monday nights. Everyone is free to attend, but if you do not pay the tuition you will not get the degree when we finish the full curriculum. We are building our full evangelism and discipleship ministry and are doing more outreach now that we have people prepared and trained to help with it. 

    3. This is a tough question, but the short answer is by staying in the presence of God. If we are with him, he guides us and leads us. He shows us when things are becoming idols, and hindering the work of the Kingdom. Its when we stop relying on him and his presence that we lose focus, lean on our tools, and become Idolaters. 

    4. I think there is a need for both. We need youth ministry, because it reaches the youth on a level that they need, but at the same time, I think we need to be willing to integrate the youth into our adult church as well. If we simply separate them then they do not feel valued in the body and do not work with the rest of the church. We need to help everyone feel needed and valued in the church.

    5. I think the term is utter bullocks. What is relevant today is not relevant by the time you implement it, because relevancy is relative to an ever changing and often fickle culture. I could give examples of this, but I will be nice.  

    I think this is a great blog, but rather than relevance I think we need to be real. Real People, Real Passion, Real Purpose, Real. I think people want to encounter something real and though something is relevant it loses its flavor fast once we realize how fake it is. Humanity needs something that is real and that Lasts. I will stop now becuase any more and It might as well be a blog post on my website because I am getting as long as your original thought. Well in Rich. Well in!

    1. Thanks Matt..I love “…but rather than relevance I think we need to be real. Real People, Real Passion, Real Purpose, Real”

  5. *Standing Ovation* well said Sir. Well Said sir. Let me answer your questions and then share some extra thoughts.
    1. I am involved in a new Church plant, just over 6 months old. If we were hit with a natural disaster here in Lawrence, KS. This is what would remain: Worship, Prayer, and the Greeters. Many of the staff in this church are trained in disaster response, grief counseling, and are just loving people. So in the event of a disaster we would be reaching out to hurting people. I ma the worship leader, and our ministry has a strong emphasis on Worshiping the Lord. In the midst of the crisis we would be praising, worshiping, and praying becuase We believe that when we worship, we call his presence down just as in Chr. 5. His presence can be an even more powerful comforter and healer than we can, so we keep his presence.

    2. We have 2 main “services” I dislike that word. Friday night is our Wild service, it is much more ‘charismatic’ and different. We celebrate Shabbat and we pursue God with everything. Our Sunday Morning gathering is more traditional. We have good worship, and preaching, and the altar time, but we tend to be more reserved because this meeting is geared to reaching out to visitors and guests who might not be christian, or may not be as passionate and wild and might be uncomfortable with the Shabbat service. We also have a Bible College here at the church meeting on monday nights. Everyone is free to attend, but if you do not pay the tuition you will not get the degree when we finish the full curriculum. We are building our full evangelism and discipleship ministry and are doing more outreach now that we have people prepared and trained to help with it. 

    3. This is a tough question, but the short answer is by staying in the presence of God. If we are with him, he guides us and leads us. He shows us when things are becoming idols, and hindering the work of the Kingdom. Its when we stop relying on him and his presence that we lose focus, lean on our tools, and become Idolaters. 

    4. I think there is a need for both. We need youth ministry, because it reaches the youth on a level that they need, but at the same time, I think we need to be willing to integrate the youth into our adult church as well. If we simply separate them then they do not feel valued in the body and do not work with the rest of the church. We need to help everyone feel needed and valued in the church.

    5. I think the term is utter bullocks. What is relevant today is not relevant by the time you implement it, because relevancy is relative to an ever changing and often fickle culture. I could give examples of this, but I will be nice.  

    I think this is a great blog, but rather than relevance I think we need to be real. Real People, Real Passion, Real Purpose, Real. I think people want to encounter something real and though something is relevant it loses its flavor fast once we realize how fake it is. Humanity needs something that is real and that Lasts. I will stop now becuase any more and It might as well be a blog post on my website because I am getting as long as your original thought. Well in Rich. Well in!

    1. Thanks Matt..I love “…but rather than relevance I think we need to be real. Real People, Real Passion, Real Purpose, Real”

  6. I appreciate your thoughts here, Rich.
    I wonder if part of this issue has to do with our need to have faith in the power of God more than our marketing options.

    Jesus instructed his disciples to ask God for His kingdom to come from heaven to earth. I think the modern church sometimes inverts this, trying desperately to find a method to present earth to heaven.

    I wonder if we subconsciously (I’m giving us the benefit of the doubt here!) do not believe that God IS relevant to every age, and we think that the culture of His kingdom needs updating in order to have value to our sophisticated world.

    I’m not suggesting that we don’t look for ways to reach people that they can identify with — not at all. Paul said he wanted to be all things to all people — but he wasn’t talking about trying to be worldly-cool enough to be taken seriously. He simply meant that he did not think too highly of himself, he made himself approachable to people in all walks of life by understanding THEIR world, and he could work with them in their cultural context. Paul was the guy who really thought that the GOSPEL is the power of God unto salvation, not the way we PACKAGE it!

    Jesus approached people the same way — uncompromising, unapologetic gospel of the kingdom of God, brought to those in need right where they were living. When Jesus presented Himself to them, those with ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’ related.

    Maybe we should focus more on living the life God’s looking for than trying to create a ‘look’ of a life we think people might be looking for.

    Harold

    1. Harold,
      As always a seasoning of the prophetic! Thanks for you comment.

      “Maybe we should focus more on living the life God’s looking for than trying to create a ‘look’ of a life we think people might be looking for.”
      RK

  7. I appreciate your thoughts here, Rich.
    I wonder if part of this issue has to do with our need to have faith in the power of God more than our marketing options.
    Jesus instructed his disciples to ask God for His kingdom to come from heaven to earth. I think the modern church sometimes inverts this, trying desperately to find a method to present earth to heaven.
    I wonder if we subconsciously (I’m giving us the benefit of the doubt here!) do not believe that God IS relevant to every age, and we think that the culture of His kingdom needs updating in order to have value to our sophisticated world.
    I’m not suggesting that we don’t look for ways to reach people that they can identify with — not at all. Paul said he wanted to be all things to all people — but he wasn’t talking about trying to be worldly-cool enough to be taken seriously. He simply meant that he did not think too highly of himself, he made himself approachable to people in all walks of life by understanding THEIR world, and he could work with them in their cultural context. Paul was the guy who really thought that the GOSPEL is the power of God unto salvation, not the way we PACKAGE it!
    Jesus approached people the same way — uncompromising, unapologetic gospel of the kingdom of God, brought to those in need right where they were living. When Jesus presented Himself to them, those with ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’ related.
    Maybe we should focus more on living the life God’s looking for than trying to create a ‘look’ of a life we think people might be looking for.
    Harold

    1. Harold,
      As always a seasoning of the prophetic! Thanks for you comment.
      “Maybe we should focus more on living the life God’s looking for than trying to create a ‘look’ of a life we think people might be looking for.”
      RK

  8. I appreciate your thoughts here, Rich.
    I wonder if part of this issue has to do with our need to have faith in the power of God more than our marketing options.

    Jesus instructed his disciples to ask God for His kingdom to come from heaven to earth. I think the modern church sometimes inverts this, trying desperately to find a method to present earth to heaven.

    I wonder if we subconsciously (I’m giving us the benefit of the doubt here!) do not believe that God IS relevant to every age, and we think that the culture of His kingdom needs updating in order to have value to our sophisticated world.

    I’m not suggesting that we don’t look for ways to reach people that they can identify with — not at all. Paul said he wanted to be all things to all people — but he wasn’t talking about trying to be worldly-cool enough to be taken seriously. He simply meant that he did not think too highly of himself, he made himself approachable to people in all walks of life by understanding THEIR world, and he could work with them in their cultural context. Paul was the guy who really thought that the GOSPEL is the power of God unto salvation, not the way we PACKAGE it!

    Jesus approached people the same way — uncompromising, unapologetic gospel of the kingdom of God, brought to those in need right where they were living. When Jesus presented Himself to them, those with ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’ related.

    Maybe we should focus more on living the life God’s looking for than trying to create a ‘look’ of a life we think people might be looking for.

    Harold

    1. Harold,
      As always a seasoning of the prophetic! Thanks for you comment.

      “Maybe we should focus more on living the life God’s looking for than trying to create a ‘look’ of a life we think people might be looking for.”
      RK

  9. I appreciate your thoughts here, Rich.
    I wonder if part of this issue has to do with our need to have faith in the power of God more than our marketing options.

    Jesus instructed his disciples to ask God for His kingdom to come from heaven to earth. I think the modern church sometimes inverts this, trying desperately to find a method to present earth to heaven.

    I wonder if we subconsciously (I’m giving us the benefit of the doubt here!) do not believe that God IS relevant to every age, and we think that the culture of His kingdom needs updating in order to have value to our sophisticated world.

    I’m not suggesting that we don’t look for ways to reach people that they can identify with — not at all. Paul said he wanted to be all things to all people — but he wasn’t talking about trying to be worldly-cool enough to be taken seriously. He simply meant that he did not think too highly of himself, he made himself approachable to people in all walks of life by understanding THEIR world, and he could work with them in their cultural context. Paul was the guy who really thought that the GOSPEL is the power of God unto salvation, not the way we PACKAGE it!

    Jesus approached people the same way — uncompromising, unapologetic gospel of the kingdom of God, brought to those in need right where they were living. When Jesus presented Himself to them, those with ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’ related.

    Maybe we should focus more on living the life God’s looking for than trying to create a ‘look’ of a life we think people might be looking for.

    Harold

    1. Harold,
      As always a seasoning of the prophetic! Thanks for you comment.

      “Maybe we should focus more on living the life God’s looking for than trying to create a ‘look’ of a life we think people might be looking for.”
      RK

  10. I appreciate your thoughts here, Rich.
    I wonder if part of this issue has to do with our need to have faith in the power of God more than our marketing options.

    Jesus instructed his disciples to ask God for His kingdom to come from heaven to earth. I think the modern church sometimes inverts this, trying desperately to find a method to present earth to heaven.

    I wonder if we subconsciously (I’m giving us the benefit of the doubt here!) do not believe that God IS relevant to every age, and we think that the culture of His kingdom needs updating in order to have value to our sophisticated world.

    I’m not suggesting that we don’t look for ways to reach people that they can identify with — not at all. Paul said he wanted to be all things to all people — but he wasn’t talking about trying to be worldly-cool enough to be taken seriously. He simply meant that he did not think too highly of himself, he made himself approachable to people in all walks of life by understanding THEIR world, and he could work with them in their cultural context. Paul was the guy who really thought that the GOSPEL is the power of God unto salvation, not the way we PACKAGE it!

    Jesus approached people the same way — uncompromising, unapologetic gospel of the kingdom of God, brought to those in need right where they were living. When Jesus presented Himself to them, those with ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’ related.

    Maybe we should focus more on living the life God’s looking for than trying to create a ‘look’ of a life we think people might be looking for.

    Harold

    1. Harold,
      As always a seasoning of the prophetic! Thanks for you comment.

      “Maybe we should focus more on living the life God’s looking for than trying to create a ‘look’ of a life we think people might be looking for.”
      RK

  11. Great thoughts here Rick. 
    I tend to believe many of these can be managed well if a church is firm on its basics. For e.g. no matter how many tech innovations are introduced, the basic components of community worship i.e. prayer, teaching of the Word, the Eucharistic meal and fellowship (Acts 2:42) should not be messed with.
     
    Leadership should ideally pray and discern regularly on what is relevant especially in the context of differentiating passing fads and long term fruit.
     
    This may call for lots of courage to refrain from blindly following what’s trending at any given moment or maybe even lose some numbers to the neighboring trendier church. I mean the early Christians didn’t choose what was popular even in the face of torture and death!
     
    Regular soul searching on questions like
    – what are we marketing – Jesus or a music style?
    – Are we trying to be popular or real?
    – Is our “worship” all style with little substance?
    would also help.

    1. Thanks Gangai for chiming in. Your statement here is what goes on in the heads of many church leaders:
      “This may call for lots of courage to refrain from blindly following what’s trending at any given moment or maybe even lose some numbers to the neighboring trendier church.”

      We are the letter as Paul puts it, not of stone but written on human hearts. If we do not embody Jesus, no amount of slickness can make it up. Programs are tools, people is our business.

      RK

  12. Great thoughts here Rick. 
    I tend to believe many of these can be managed well if a church is firm on its basics. For e.g. no matter how many tech innovations are introduced, the basic components of community worship i.e. prayer, teaching of the Word, the Eucharistic meal and fellowship (Acts 2:42) should not be messed with.
     
    Leadership should ideally pray and discern regularly on what is relevant especially in the context of differentiating passing fads and long term fruit.
     
    This may call for lots of courage to refrain from blindly following what’s trending at any given moment or maybe even lose some numbers to the neighboring trendier church. I mean the early Christians didn’t choose what was popular even in the face of torture and death!
     
    Regular soul searching on questions like
    – what are we marketing – Jesus or a music style?
    – Are we trying to be popular or real?
    – Is our “worship” all style with little substance?
    would also help.

    1. Thanks Gangai for chiming in. Your statement here is what goes on in the heads of many church leaders:
      “This may call for lots of courage to refrain from blindly following what’s trending at any given moment or maybe even lose some numbers to the neighboring trendier church.”
      We are the letter as Paul puts it, not of stone but written on human hearts. If we do not embody Jesus, no amount of slickness can make it up. Programs are tools, people is our business.
      RK

  13. Great thoughts here Rick. 
    I tend to believe many of these can be managed well if a church is firm on its basics. For e.g. no matter how many tech innovations are introduced, the basic components of community worship i.e. prayer, teaching of the Word, the Eucharistic meal and fellowship (Acts 2:42) should not be messed with.
     
    Leadership should ideally pray and discern regularly on what is relevant especially in the context of differentiating passing fads and long term fruit.
     
    This may call for lots of courage to refrain from blindly following what’s trending at any given moment or maybe even lose some numbers to the neighboring trendier church. I mean the early Christians didn’t choose what was popular even in the face of torture and death!
     
    Regular soul searching on questions like
    – what are we marketing – Jesus or a music style?
    – Are we trying to be popular or real?
    – Is our “worship” all style with little substance?
    would also help.

    1. Thanks Gangai for chiming in. Your statement here is what goes on in the heads of many church leaders:
      “This may call for lots of courage to refrain from blindly following what’s trending at any given moment or maybe even lose some numbers to the neighboring trendier church.”

      We are the letter as Paul puts it, not of stone but written on human hearts. If we do not embody Jesus, no amount of slickness can make it up. Programs are tools, people is our business.

      RK

  14. Great thoughts here Rick. 
    I tend to believe many of these can be managed well if a church is firm on its basics. For e.g. no matter how many tech innovations are introduced, the basic components of community worship i.e. prayer, teaching of the Word, the Eucharistic meal and fellowship (Acts 2:42) should not be messed with.
     
    Leadership should ideally pray and discern regularly on what is relevant especially in the context of differentiating passing fads and long term fruit.
     
    This may call for lots of courage to refrain from blindly following what’s trending at any given moment or maybe even lose some numbers to the neighboring trendier church. I mean the early Christians didn’t choose what was popular even in the face of torture and death!
     
    Regular soul searching on questions like
    – what are we marketing – Jesus or a music style?
    – Are we trying to be popular or real?
    – Is our “worship” all style with little substance?
    would also help.

    1. Thanks Gangai for chiming in. Your statement here is what goes on in the heads of many church leaders:
      “This may call for lots of courage to refrain from blindly following what’s trending at any given moment or maybe even lose some numbers to the neighboring trendier church.”

      We are the letter as Paul puts it, not of stone but written on human hearts. If we do not embody Jesus, no amount of slickness can make it up. Programs are tools, people is our business.

      RK

  15. Great thoughts here Rick. 
    I tend to believe many of these can be managed well if a church is firm on its basics. For e.g. no matter how many tech innovations are introduced, the basic components of community worship i.e. prayer, teaching of the Word, the Eucharistic meal and fellowship (Acts 2:42) should not be messed with.
     
    Leadership should ideally pray and discern regularly on what is relevant especially in the context of differentiating passing fads and long term fruit.
     
    This may call for lots of courage to refrain from blindly following what’s trending at any given moment or maybe even lose some numbers to the neighboring trendier church. I mean the early Christians didn’t choose what was popular even in the face of torture and death!
     
    Regular soul searching on questions like
    – what are we marketing – Jesus or a music style?
    – Are we trying to be popular or real?
    – Is our “worship” all style with little substance?
    would also help.

    1. Thanks Gangai for chiming in. Your statement here is what goes on in the heads of many church leaders:
      “This may call for lots of courage to refrain from blindly following what’s trending at any given moment or maybe even lose some numbers to the neighboring trendier church.”

      We are the letter as Paul puts it, not of stone but written on human hearts. If we do not embody Jesus, no amount of slickness can make it up. Programs are tools, people is our business.

      RK

  16. Bravo, Rich, Bravo.
    You have very clearly stated what my heart has been feeling for quite some time now. 

    My favorite takeaway is a quote: “Are we just putting on a venue to market and display Christianity or are we creating a community of faith and simply expressing it?”

    You’ve raised some great questions here and I look forward to chewing on them for a while.

    Thanks Rich,
    BP

  17. Bravo, Rich, Bravo.
    You have very clearly stated what my heart has been feeling for quite some time now. 
    My favorite takeaway is a quote: “Are we just putting on a venue to market and display Christianity or are we creating a community of faith and simply expressing it?”
    You’ve raised some great questions here and I look forward to chewing on them for a while.
    Thanks Rich,
    BP

  18. Bravo, Rich, Bravo.
    You have very clearly stated what my heart has been feeling for quite some time now. 

    My favorite takeaway is a quote: “Are we just putting on a venue to market and display Christianity or are we creating a community of faith and simply expressing it?”

    You’ve raised some great questions here and I look forward to chewing on them for a while.

    Thanks Rich,
    BP

  19. Bravo, Rich, Bravo.
    You have very clearly stated what my heart has been feeling for quite some time now. 

    My favorite takeaway is a quote: “Are we just putting on a venue to market and display Christianity or are we creating a community of faith and simply expressing it?”

    You’ve raised some great questions here and I look forward to chewing on them for a while.

    Thanks Rich,
    BP

  20. Bravo, Rich, Bravo.
    You have very clearly stated what my heart has been feeling for quite some time now. 

    My favorite takeaway is a quote: “Are we just putting on a venue to market and display Christianity or are we creating a community of faith and simply expressing it?”

    You’ve raised some great questions here and I look forward to chewing on them for a while.

    Thanks Rich,
    BP

  21. First off… thanks A LOT!! I thought we were friends because I was working on the SAME POST!! ha ha!! no joke
    you need to read the book “the last christian standing”.

    Here is the thing.. it really comes down to this… Every business needs to decide what it is that they have to offer that others don’t. Many times Churches advertise the same things. Music, Friendship, cool events, boring meetings… etc It is all stuff you can get at your library or at the local bar.

    What is missing is the advertising of the saving Grace and lifechanging power of God. The church has that to “sell” and you can’t get it anywhere else.

    1. Thanks Joel. Marketing is not bad, but yet it is! Seth Godin the other day said this…
      “When selling A against B, we might do a great job of explaining why A is better than B, but it’s easy to forget that the prospects you are pitching have another option: doing nothing.”

      It is that comparison, even with the world as to what we are not, that is the problem. We need to market who are. But, we don’t because that is not selling too well right now

  22. First off… thanks A LOT!! I thought we were friends because I was working on the SAME POST!! ha ha!! no joke
    you need to read the book “the last christian standing”.
    Here is the thing.. it really comes down to this… Every business needs to decide what it is that they have to offer that others don’t. Many times Churches advertise the same things. Music, Friendship, cool events, boring meetings… etc It is all stuff you can get at your library or at the local bar.
    What is missing is the advertising of the saving Grace and lifechanging power of God. The church has that to “sell” and you can’t get it anywhere else.

    1. Thanks Joel. Marketing is not bad, but yet it is! Seth Godin the other day said this…
      “When selling A against B, we might do a great job of explaining why A is better than B, but it’s easy to forget that the prospects you are pitching have another option: doing nothing.”
      It is that comparison, even with the world as to what we are not, that is the problem. We need to market who are. But, we don’t because that is not selling too well right now

  23. First off… thanks A LOT!! I thought we were friends because I was working on the SAME POST!! ha ha!! no joke
    you need to read the book “the last christian standing”.

    Here is the thing.. it really comes down to this… Every business needs to decide what it is that they have to offer that others don’t. Many times Churches advertise the same things. Music, Friendship, cool events, boring meetings… etc It is all stuff you can get at your library or at the local bar.

    What is missing is the advertising of the saving Grace and lifechanging power of God. The church has that to “sell” and you can’t get it anywhere else.

    1. Thanks Joel. Marketing is not bad, but yet it is! Seth Godin the other day said this…
      “When selling A against B, we might do a great job of explaining why A is better than B, but it’s easy to forget that the prospects you are pitching have another option: doing nothing.”

      It is that comparison, even with the world as to what we are not, that is the problem. We need to market who are. But, we don’t because that is not selling too well right now

  24. First off… thanks A LOT!! I thought we were friends because I was working on the SAME POST!! ha ha!! no joke
    you need to read the book “the last christian standing”.

    Here is the thing.. it really comes down to this… Every business needs to decide what it is that they have to offer that others don’t. Many times Churches advertise the same things. Music, Friendship, cool events, boring meetings… etc It is all stuff you can get at your library or at the local bar.

    What is missing is the advertising of the saving Grace and lifechanging power of God. The church has that to “sell” and you can’t get it anywhere else.

    1. Thanks Joel. Marketing is not bad, but yet it is! Seth Godin the other day said this…
      “When selling A against B, we might do a great job of explaining why A is better than B, but it’s easy to forget that the prospects you are pitching have another option: doing nothing.”

      It is that comparison, even with the world as to what we are not, that is the problem. We need to market who are. But, we don’t because that is not selling too well right now

  25. First off… thanks A LOT!! I thought we were friends because I was working on the SAME POST!! ha ha!! no joke
    you need to read the book “the last christian standing”.

    Here is the thing.. it really comes down to this… Every business needs to decide what it is that they have to offer that others don’t. Many times Churches advertise the same things. Music, Friendship, cool events, boring meetings… etc It is all stuff you can get at your library or at the local bar.

    What is missing is the advertising of the saving Grace and lifechanging power of God. The church has that to “sell” and you can’t get it anywhere else.

    1. Thanks Joel. Marketing is not bad, but yet it is! Seth Godin the other day said this…
      “When selling A against B, we might do a great job of explaining why A is better than B, but it’s easy to forget that the prospects you are pitching have another option: doing nothing.”

      It is that comparison, even with the world as to what we are not, that is the problem. We need to market who are. But, we don’t because that is not selling too well right now

  26. Dude, you nailed it – plain and simple.  
    To answer your final question, I think that the Church should define “relevant” (or ‘being relevant’) as “communicating the ancient teachings of Christianity in a way that the people of today can understand.”

    Unfortunately, I see it – in a lot of places – being defined as “using the latest style to attract people.”  

    I think that we can sometimes forget that the Gospel is offensive to unbelievers. Why do we think we can (or even should) make it “palatable”?  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.  

    At the same time, I am passionate about style (music, presentation, lighting) – but I have to constantly remind myself to stay on track with what the main purpose is – and that these very SMALL things should serve the grand purpose. If they do not, or if they become too important, we need to reign it in and (not to overuse this cliche, but) keep the main thing the main thing.  

    Great thoughts, Rich!

    1. Thanks Elgin! I am beginning to think the gospel is more offensive to “religious” believers than the non-churched person, however. 
      You do articulate the nut of all of all the points here: “Why do we think we can (or even should) make it “palatable”?  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.  “

      Thanks!
      RK

  27. Dude, you nailed it – plain and simple.  
    To answer your final question, I think that the Church should define “relevant” (or ‘being relevant’) as “communicating the ancient teachings of Christianity in a way that the people of today can understand.”
    Unfortunately, I see it – in a lot of places – being defined as “using the latest style to attract people.”  
    I think that we can sometimes forget that the Gospel is offensive to unbelievers. Why do we think we can (or even should) make it “palatable”?  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.  
    At the same time, I am passionate about style (music, presentation, lighting) – but I have to constantly remind myself to stay on track with what the main purpose is – and that these very SMALL things should serve the grand purpose. If they do not, or if they become too important, we need to reign it in and (not to overuse this cliche, but) keep the main thing the main thing.  
    Great thoughts, Rich!

    1. Thanks Elgin! I am beginning to think the gospel is more offensive to “religious” believers than the non-churched person, however. 
      You do articulate the nut of all of all the points here: “Why do we think we can (or even should) make it “palatable”?  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.  ”
      Thanks!
      RK

  28. Dude, you nailed it – plain and simple.  
    To answer your final question, I think that the Church should define “relevant” (or ‘being relevant’) as “communicating the ancient teachings of Christianity in a way that the people of today can understand.”

    Unfortunately, I see it – in a lot of places – being defined as “using the latest style to attract people.”  

    I think that we can sometimes forget that the Gospel is offensive to unbelievers. Why do we think we can (or even should) make it “palatable”?  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.  

    At the same time, I am passionate about style (music, presentation, lighting) – but I have to constantly remind myself to stay on track with what the main purpose is – and that these very SMALL things should serve the grand purpose. If they do not, or if they become too important, we need to reign it in and (not to overuse this cliche, but) keep the main thing the main thing.  

    Great thoughts, Rich!

    1. Thanks Elgin! I am beginning to think the gospel is more offensive to “religious” believers than the non-churched person, however. 
      You do articulate the nut of all of all the points here: “Why do we think we can (or even should) make it “palatable”?  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.  “

      Thanks!
      RK

  29. Dude, you nailed it – plain and simple.  
    To answer your final question, I think that the Church should define “relevant” (or ‘being relevant’) as “communicating the ancient teachings of Christianity in a way that the people of today can understand.”

    Unfortunately, I see it – in a lot of places – being defined as “using the latest style to attract people.”  

    I think that we can sometimes forget that the Gospel is offensive to unbelievers. Why do we think we can (or even should) make it “palatable”?  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.  

    At the same time, I am passionate about style (music, presentation, lighting) – but I have to constantly remind myself to stay on track with what the main purpose is – and that these very SMALL things should serve the grand purpose. If they do not, or if they become too important, we need to reign it in and (not to overuse this cliche, but) keep the main thing the main thing.  

    Great thoughts, Rich!

    1. Thanks Elgin! I am beginning to think the gospel is more offensive to “religious” believers than the non-churched person, however. 
      You do articulate the nut of all of all the points here: “Why do we think we can (or even should) make it “palatable”?  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.  “

      Thanks!
      RK

  30. Dude, you nailed it – plain and simple.  
    To answer your final question, I think that the Church should define “relevant” (or ‘being relevant’) as “communicating the ancient teachings of Christianity in a way that the people of today can understand.”

    Unfortunately, I see it – in a lot of places – being defined as “using the latest style to attract people.”  

    I think that we can sometimes forget that the Gospel is offensive to unbelievers. Why do we think we can (or even should) make it “palatable”?  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.  

    At the same time, I am passionate about style (music, presentation, lighting) – but I have to constantly remind myself to stay on track with what the main purpose is – and that these very SMALL things should serve the grand purpose. If they do not, or if they become too important, we need to reign it in and (not to overuse this cliche, but) keep the main thing the main thing.  

    Great thoughts, Rich!

    1. Thanks Elgin! I am beginning to think the gospel is more offensive to “religious” believers than the non-churched person, however. 
      You do articulate the nut of all of all the points here: “Why do we think we can (or even should) make it “palatable”?  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.  “

      Thanks!
      RK

  31. Once again, you raise good questions, Rich.

  32. Once again, you raise good questions, Rich.

  33. Once again, you raise good questions, Rich.

  34. Once again, you raise good questions, Rich.

  35. Once again, you raise good questions, Rich.

  36. Hey Rich!Saw this on FB and it caught my eye because I’m longing for a real community of believers.

    I’m not going to comment on much, just one thing. Maybe a little bit off course of what you were discussing though.  You mentioned, “In the youth group, an arguably dying ministry trend, a group is celebrated because they are allowed to be different.”  I’m just curious why you say “dying ministry”.  I recently watched a documentary called “Divided” on the subject of the dangers of age-segregated church. http://dividedthemovie.com/   Apparently they say this is the main reason why young adults are leaving the church in droves.

    I’m not sure what my view on this is yet but it definitely was thought provoking. I was very put off once when I visited a church and they wouldn’t let me bring my kids into the service.  Only adults were allowed. I HAD to take them to children’s church. I always enjoy the option of taking them to children’s church, and I usually do, but to not ALLOW children to stay with their parents is unacceptable. Looking back on my childhood, we had Sunday School and children’s church on Sunday mornings, but we always were together in the big service on Sunday nights. Non-negotiable. Then when I got into Jr. High and High School, we still had Sunday School the first hour but we always attended big service the second hour. I always felt comfortable in the big service, but apparently kids nowadays aren’t getting enough exposure to the other members of the church and see no reason to stick around once they are independent of mom and dad. And somewhere along the line, they haven’t taken ownership of their faith. Maybe they see some shallowness in this whole cool branding trend. Hokey or cool, we need to be real as others have said here.

    1. Hi Marilyn! Miss you guys!
      I would like to see that documentary…Let me be clear, what is dying and hopefully is, is the youth attracting thing where we gather kids with a show, rather than to disciple them. It is the same argument. It is a tool to attract kids to share Christ with them and build relationships. It is not necessarily a ministry core function. It is just a “strategy” to the mission. I love production, fun, marketing, and more. But, I need to love bringing people into a full-walk with God first. That is all I am trying to say. I think youth groups are fine, but we need to be careful about what we are creating. It is like our buildings. We build a facility with a strategy that works in 1995 then in 2012 we have a hard time paying the mortgage for a tool that is not serving what works today.Now, to the philosophical question about dividing groups out I have to say I am on the side of doing it with caution and care to the end in mind to integrate as the goal of the strategy. But, our culture beyond church has made age marketing a cool thing, so we copy it. It is so much easy to target a group.

      1. Sorry, I just now read your response!  Discipleship is definitely the key, but I would prefer it being done while doing life together rather than just at the church building on Sundays and Wednesday nights. I’d like to see families and friends actually hang out on a consistent basis, be friends, eat, play, pray,  serve the community, and work through difficult situations together. All ages are included in this type of “congregation” and the kids get to (hopefully) see genuine faith and love being played out in front of them, which is contagious. However, this is hard to do in our suburban cultures.  I was fortunate to have a taste of it in China.

  37. Hey Rich!Saw this on FB and it caught my eye because I’m longing for a real community of believers.
    I’m not going to comment on much, just one thing. Maybe a little bit off course of what you were discussing though.  You mentioned, “In the youth group, an arguably dying ministry trend, a group is celebrated because they are allowed to be different.”  I’m just curious why you say “dying ministry”.  I recently watched a documentary called “Divided” on the subject of the dangers of age-segregated church. http://dividedthemovie.com/   Apparently they say this is the main reason why young adults are leaving the church in droves.
    I’m not sure what my view on this is yet but it definitely was thought provoking. I was very put off once when I visited a church and they wouldn’t let me bring my kids into the service.  Only adults were allowed. I HAD to take them to children’s church. I always enjoy the option of taking them to children’s church, and I usually do, but to not ALLOW children to stay with their parents is unacceptable. Looking back on my childhood, we had Sunday School and children’s church on Sunday mornings, but we always were together in the big service on Sunday nights. Non-negotiable. Then when I got into Jr. High and High School, we still had Sunday School the first hour but we always attended big service the second hour. I always felt comfortable in the big service, but apparently kids nowadays aren’t getting enough exposure to the other members of the church and see no reason to stick around once they are independent of mom and dad. And somewhere along the line, they haven’t taken ownership of their faith. Maybe they see some shallowness in this whole cool branding trend. Hokey or cool, we need to be real as others have said here.

    1. Hi Marilyn! Miss you guys!
      I would like to see that documentary…Let me be clear, what is dying and hopefully is, is the youth attracting thing where we gather kids with a show, rather than to disciple them. It is the same argument. It is a tool to attract kids to share Christ with them and build relationships. It is not necessarily a ministry core function. It is just a “strategy” to the mission. I love production, fun, marketing, and more. But, I need to love bringing people into a full-walk with God first. That is all I am trying to say. I think youth groups are fine, but we need to be careful about what we are creating. It is like our buildings. We build a facility with a strategy that works in 1995 then in 2012 we have a hard time paying the mortgage for a tool that is not serving what works today.Now, to the philosophical question about dividing groups out I have to say I am on the side of doing it with caution and care to the end in mind to integrate as the goal of the strategy. But, our culture beyond church has made age marketing a cool thing, so we copy it. It is so much easy to target a group.

      1. Sorry, I just now read your response!  Discipleship is definitely the key, but I would prefer it being done while doing life together rather than just at the church building on Sundays and Wednesday nights. I’d like to see families and friends actually hang out on a consistent basis, be friends, eat, play, pray,  serve the community, and work through difficult situations together. All ages are included in this type of “congregation” and the kids get to (hopefully) see genuine faith and love being played out in front of them, which is contagious. However, this is hard to do in our suburban cultures.  I was fortunate to have a taste of it in China.

  38. Hey Rich!Saw this on FB and it caught my eye because I’m longing for a real community of believers.

    I’m not going to comment on much, just one thing. Maybe a little bit off course of what you were discussing though.  You mentioned, “In the youth group, an arguably dying ministry trend, a group is celebrated because they are allowed to be different.”  I’m just curious why you say “dying ministry”.  I recently watched a documentary called “Divided” on the subject of the dangers of age-segregated church. http://dividedthemovie.com/   Apparently they say this is the main reason why young adults are leaving the church in droves.

    I’m not sure what my view on this is yet but it definitely was thought provoking. I was very put off once when I visited a church and they wouldn’t let me bring my kids into the service.  Only adults were allowed. I HAD to take them to children’s church. I always enjoy the option of taking them to children’s church, and I usually do, but to not ALLOW children to stay with their parents is unacceptable. Looking back on my childhood, we had Sunday School and children’s church on Sunday mornings, but we always were together in the big service on Sunday nights. Non-negotiable. Then when I got into Jr. High and High School, we still had Sunday School the first hour but we always attended big service the second hour. I always felt comfortable in the big service, but apparently kids nowadays aren’t getting enough exposure to the other members of the church and see no reason to stick around once they are independent of mom and dad. And somewhere along the line, they haven’t taken ownership of their faith. Maybe they see some shallowness in this whole cool branding trend. Hokey or cool, we need to be real as others have said here.

    1. Hi Marilyn! Miss you guys!
      I would like to see that documentary…Let me be clear, what is dying and hopefully is, is the youth attracting thing where we gather kids with a show, rather than to disciple them. It is the same argument. It is a tool to attract kids to share Christ with them and build relationships. It is not necessarily a ministry core function. It is just a “strategy” to the mission. I love production, fun, marketing, and more. But, I need to love bringing people into a full-walk with God first. That is all I am trying to say. I think youth groups are fine, but we need to be careful about what we are creating. It is like our buildings. We build a facility with a strategy that works in 1995 then in 2012 we have a hard time paying the mortgage for a tool that is not serving what works today.Now, to the philosophical question about dividing groups out I have to say I am on the side of doing it with caution and care to the end in mind to integrate as the goal of the strategy. But, our culture beyond church has made age marketing a cool thing, so we copy it. It is so much easy to target a group.

      1. Sorry, I just now read your response!  Discipleship is definitely the key, but I would prefer it being done while doing life together rather than just at the church building on Sundays and Wednesday nights. I’d like to see families and friends actually hang out on a consistent basis, be friends, eat, play, pray,  serve the community, and work through difficult situations together. All ages are included in this type of “congregation” and the kids get to (hopefully) see genuine faith and love being played out in front of them, which is contagious. However, this is hard to do in our suburban cultures.  I was fortunate to have a taste of it in China.

  39. Hey Rich!Saw this on FB and it caught my eye because I’m longing for a real community of believers.

    I’m not going to comment on much, just one thing. Maybe a little bit off course of what you were discussing though.  You mentioned, “In the youth group, an arguably dying ministry trend, a group is celebrated because they are allowed to be different.”  I’m just curious why you say “dying ministry”.  I recently watched a documentary called “Divided” on the subject of the dangers of age-segregated church. http://dividedthemovie.com/   Apparently they say this is the main reason why young adults are leaving the church in droves.

    I’m not sure what my view on this is yet but it definitely was thought provoking. I was very put off once when I visited a church and they wouldn’t let me bring my kids into the service.  Only adults were allowed. I HAD to take them to children’s church. I always enjoy the option of taking them to children’s church, and I usually do, but to not ALLOW children to stay with their parents is unacceptable. Looking back on my childhood, we had Sunday School and children’s church on Sunday mornings, but we always were together in the big service on Sunday nights. Non-negotiable. Then when I got into Jr. High and High School, we still had Sunday School the first hour but we always attended big service the second hour. I always felt comfortable in the big service, but apparently kids nowadays aren’t getting enough exposure to the other members of the church and see no reason to stick around once they are independent of mom and dad. And somewhere along the line, they haven’t taken ownership of their faith. Maybe they see some shallowness in this whole cool branding trend. Hokey or cool, we need to be real as others have said here.

    1. Hi Marilyn! Miss you guys!
      I would like to see that documentary…Let me be clear, what is dying and hopefully is, is the youth attracting thing where we gather kids with a show, rather than to disciple them. It is the same argument. It is a tool to attract kids to share Christ with them and build relationships. It is not necessarily a ministry core function. It is just a “strategy” to the mission. I love production, fun, marketing, and more. But, I need to love bringing people into a full-walk with God first. That is all I am trying to say. I think youth groups are fine, but we need to be careful about what we are creating. It is like our buildings. We build a facility with a strategy that works in 1995 then in 2012 we have a hard time paying the mortgage for a tool that is not serving what works today.Now, to the philosophical question about dividing groups out I have to say I am on the side of doing it with caution and care to the end in mind to integrate as the goal of the strategy. But, our culture beyond church has made age marketing a cool thing, so we copy it. It is so much easy to target a group.

      1. Sorry, I just now read your response!  Discipleship is definitely the key, but I would prefer it being done while doing life together rather than just at the church building on Sundays and Wednesday nights. I’d like to see families and friends actually hang out on a consistent basis, be friends, eat, play, pray,  serve the community, and work through difficult situations together. All ages are included in this type of “congregation” and the kids get to (hopefully) see genuine faith and love being played out in front of them, which is contagious. However, this is hard to do in our suburban cultures.  I was fortunate to have a taste of it in China.

  40. Hey Rich!Saw this on FB and it caught my eye because I’m longing for a real community of believers.

    I’m not going to comment on much, just one thing. Maybe a little bit off course of what you were discussing though.  You mentioned, “In the youth group, an arguably dying ministry trend, a group is celebrated because they are allowed to be different.”  I’m just curious why you say “dying ministry”.  I recently watched a documentary called “Divided” on the subject of the dangers of age-segregated church. http://dividedthemovie.com/   Apparently they say this is the main reason why young adults are leaving the church in droves.

    I’m not sure what my view on this is yet but it definitely was thought provoking. I was very put off once when I visited a church and they wouldn’t let me bring my kids into the service.  Only adults were allowed. I HAD to take them to children’s church. I always enjoy the option of taking them to children’s church, and I usually do, but to not ALLOW children to stay with their parents is unacceptable. Looking back on my childhood, we had Sunday School and children’s church on Sunday mornings, but we always were together in the big service on Sunday nights. Non-negotiable. Then when I got into Jr. High and High School, we still had Sunday School the first hour but we always attended big service the second hour. I always felt comfortable in the big service, but apparently kids nowadays aren’t getting enough exposure to the other members of the church and see no reason to stick around once they are independent of mom and dad. And somewhere along the line, they haven’t taken ownership of their faith. Maybe they see some shallowness in this whole cool branding trend. Hokey or cool, we need to be real as others have said here.

    1. Hi Marilyn! Miss you guys!
      I would like to see that documentary…Let me be clear, what is dying and hopefully is, is the youth attracting thing where we gather kids with a show, rather than to disciple them. It is the same argument. It is a tool to attract kids to share Christ with them and build relationships. It is not necessarily a ministry core function. It is just a “strategy” to the mission. I love production, fun, marketing, and more. But, I need to love bringing people into a full-walk with God first. That is all I am trying to say. I think youth groups are fine, but we need to be careful about what we are creating. It is like our buildings. We build a facility with a strategy that works in 1995 then in 2012 we have a hard time paying the mortgage for a tool that is not serving what works today.Now, to the philosophical question about dividing groups out I have to say I am on the side of doing it with caution and care to the end in mind to integrate as the goal of the strategy. But, our culture beyond church has made age marketing a cool thing, so we copy it. It is so much easy to target a group.

      1. Sorry, I just now read your response!  Discipleship is definitely the key, but I would prefer it being done while doing life together rather than just at the church building on Sundays and Wednesday nights. I’d like to see families and friends actually hang out on a consistent basis, be friends, eat, play, pray,  serve the community, and work through difficult situations together. All ages are included in this type of “congregation” and the kids get to (hopefully) see genuine faith and love being played out in front of them, which is contagious. However, this is hard to do in our suburban cultures.  I was fortunate to have a taste of it in China.

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