Thinking Out Loud

August 21, 2011

Changing Churches for all the Right Superficial Reasons

I don’t plan it out this way, but some of the best items here dealing with church issues end up getting posted on Sunday.  This piece at Vic The Vicar’s blog really got me thinking.

…We go to a church because we like the way they play music and yet in doing so ignore the quality of the teaching, the theological truths and the essential tenets. We swing from Anglican to Baptist because they have better coffee and by so doing move from paedobaptism to anabaptism. We move from Pentecostal to Anglican because of the teaching and suddenly we’re into proper liturgy (should start a fight ;) )!

We make our consumer choices without realising the theological and spiritual statements we make.

We make decisions about what our churches should be – we decide that pews restrict the use and then struggle to move or do anything because of the stacked chairs (we always forget to have a room to store stuff!). We speak of open, fluid spaces, which allow us to do so much and then put the chairs out in the same way the pews were…

It’s true, and since I read this a few days ago, I encountered two people who said they changed churches because of the music, and in both cases the change represented a dramatic shift in doctrine, one of which was so extreme that I can’t actually print it here as I have local readers who might immediately recognize the story.

Anyway, I posted this comment at Vic’s:

…I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of someone changing churches because as they were studying a particular scripture they became convinced as to a particular doctrine. It is, as you say, often coffee or music or…

On the other hand, I’d like to see churches offer both decaf and regular coffee, but alas I digress.

Vic the Vicar also has an excellent piece about churches which are given historical site designations which end up hampering their ability to do anything with their building.

  • …One of the members of the offending society visited the building and explained that we were effectively ‘guests’ in a building that was a monument to William Morris…
  • … I did ask whether the society would like to take on the running and maintenance costs of the building as they held it so dear but apparently it wasn’t that dear!!!

Although North America doesn’t have the wonderful old buildings that they have in his native England, this problem is increasingly showing up in Canada and the U.S.

2 Comments »

  1. Just me again.

    I can’t help but think that this development must be frustrating from a pastor’s point of view. You preach your heart out, but people say they’ve started coming to your church because of the music.

    Conversely, I wonder if music directors and worship leaders fully understand — from a popularity contest viewpoint anyway — how much is riding on their weekly worship set? Rather frightening, actually.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 21, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

  2. My husband and I have wrestled for over two years over whether to leave our church for another after over 10 years membership. We have come to be at quite a different conviction on doctrinal matters and it stuns me to think that people would leave a church based on such superficial factors such as music style or whether there is coffee etc. We are still prayerfully seeking God’s direction and are speaking to leadership.

    Comment by Ellie — January 22, 2012 @ 2:23 pm


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