Thursday, November 08, 2007

Worship Evangelism a Bust

Sally Morgenthaler, a mainstay of the contemporary worship movement, and author of the book Worship Evangelism, has done an about face. She writes about it in an article here.

Some excerpts (emphases mine):

In [a friend's] view, Worship Evangelism had helped to create a "worship-driven subculture." As he explained it, this subculture was a sizeable part of the contemporary church that had just been waiting for an excuse not to do the hard work of real outreach. An excuse not to get their hands dirty. According to him, that excuse came in the form of a book—my book. He elaborated. "If a contemporary worship service is the best witnessing tool in the box, then why give a rip about what goes on outside the worship center? If unbelievers are coming through the doors to check us Christians out, and if they'll fall at Jesus' feet after they listen to us croon worship songs and watch us sway back and forth, well then, a whole lot of churches are just going to say, 'Sign us up!' "

The upshot? For all the money, time, and effort we've spent on cultural relevance—and that includes culturally relevant worship—it seems we came through the last 15 years with a significant net loss in churchgoers, proliferation of megachurches and all.

The 100-year-old congregation that's down to 43 members and having a hard time paying the light bill doesn't want to be told that the "answer" is living life with the people in their neighborhoods. Relationships take time, and they need an attendance infusion now.

It's an interesting article, challenging many of the underlying philosophies guiding the Church Growth movement over the last 20 years. In the end, she gets it. Worship is an outpouring of praise by God's people as he moves in their midst. But the church isn't supposed to stay there. It's supposed to get outside the walls and actually interact with people. "If you build it, they will come" just doesn't work. And it was never the plan of Jesus for his Kingdom. The incarnation alone ought to teach us that.

So go read it. Sally's still on the journey, but she's moving in a good direction.

1 comment:

MilePost13 said...

I wrote about this a few months back...I may have a slightly different opinion about it than you, but maybe not: http://practicalworship.blogspot.com/2007/09/worship-as-evangelism.html