Thee services. Three styles. One church.???? What the purpose is it seems is to try to please three groups of people. The purpose of a church service should be to please the Lord rather than try to please people. Well they say, we want to please the Lord, but also try to get more people to come by having three different kinds of services. The style is in the music, while the preacher will preach the same sermon.
“People just don’t like traditional worship anymore. We have the hymns and the liturgy and the organ. The growing churches have guitars and drums. Our style just doesn’t work anymore.” Kevin DeYoung
I wasn’t sure quite how to respond. There can be a hundred reasons for a church’s decline–some of them the fault of the church, some of them not. But I knew a little bit about the church this man was from. It’s a church with classic worship and liberal theology. They have hosted pro-gay events before (to cite one example). Knowing this, I asked the man if he thought the gospel was faithfully preached each Sunday. Of course, he said he was certain it was. I suggested that the reasons for their decline were probably more complex than simply their worship style. I didn’t get far in the conversation except to add that there are plenty of examples of thriving churches with classic worship, and we shouldn’t assume our church problems can be fixed by a simple change of instrumentation.
And yet, we can ask better questions. I’m not against changing worship styles. There may be good reasons to do so in some circumstances. But I doubt very much that’s usually the real problem. Instead of assuming that young people will flock to our churches if we drop the organ and plug in the guitar (and we have both at our church), declining denominations and shrinking churches should ask deeper, harder questions:
Is the gospel faithfully preached?
Is the Bible taught with clarity and passion?
Are the sermons manifestly rooted in a text of Scripture?
Do the elders/pastors and deacons meet the qualifications for church office laid out in the New Testament?
Are the sacraments faithfully administered and protected?
Is church discipline practiced?
Do the elders exercise personal care over the flock?
Are there good relationships among the staff and other leaders?
Is the worship service put together thoughtfully and carried out with undistracting excellence (as much as possible)?
Do the people in the congregation sing the songs with gusto, or are they going through the motions?
Is a high bar set for church membership?
Are the people of the church engaged in personal ministry?
Is the congregation marked by increasing prayer and evangelism?
Do the pastors believe in the complete trustworthiness of all of Scripture?
Do they take adequate time for study and preparation?
Do they truly believe and eagerly rejoice in their church’s/denomination’s statement of faith, creeds, and confessions?
Are their lives examples of personal holiness?
I listen to John MacArthur Sunday and he said that his responsibility is to please the Lord rather than trying to please people. If you are simply trying to please people to get them to come to the services than you have the wrong idea about worship and having a service.