Wednesday, September 12, 2007

3 Types of Churches

Church Field Trip Summary Statement

After visiting more than a dozen local churches, I think I am ready to give a summary statement. There are basically two things on my radar when attending a church: 1- Presentation of the Gospel in a clear and complete fashion; 2- Whether a service is up-to-date and relevant in its presentation and appearance. (This is simply my own personal criteria.) So far, I have seen three different types of churches based on these two observations.

1. Churches that are at least somewhat relevant to our culture and time, but somehow either missed the Gospel entirely or presented it incompletely, theologically speaking.

2. Churches that managed to present the Gospel in a clear and complete fashion theologically, but were not able to exhibit some sense of cultural relevance and an up-to-date presentation.

3. Churches that were able to present the Gospel completely, while at the same time, presenting at least some semblance of cultural relevance.

  • So far we've been to 4 churches that nailed the Gospel, but were almost laughably irrelevant. Trust me, I don't use this term lightly. Sometimes, it can actually be hard to keep a straight face.

  • We've also been to 4 churches that were up-to-date in their presentation and experience, but glossed over the reason we were there in the first place - the Gospel.

  • We visited one church that didn't meet either criteria. This church is a large and growing church, which just goes to show that every study has to have its margin of error.

  • And we've been to 3 churches that were able to do both. It should be noted that these three churches in this category were three of the largest, fastest growing churches we've visited. I wouldn't take this fact and run with it, but I do think that it is at least worth noting.

Would you say that this is a representative sampling of churches in South Florida?


Revolutionite said...

This post further sparked my interest in the concept of church relevancy. When I think about the 3 churches I believe you are referencing in this post that are growing and presenting the Gospel, I kind of shudder and pull away. I started wondering why I had this reaction to these “mega” churches. To me, they are not relevant. If not relevant to me, then who? Based purely on appearances I’d have to say they are culturally relevant to 30 something, white, upwardly mobile suburbanites. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this demographic, but it IS sort of limiting. For instance, would the average rough around the edges teen or the sex industry worker or the mom with 5 kids and a low income walk into these churches and find them to be relatable? Would the man or woman with the wrong haircut and bad teeth who lacked the “right” cool, casual outfit feel like they belonged? Or would these people walk in and feel less than, out of place, too poor or dirty? I dunno. What I do know is that a large group of people all wearing what is essentially the same outfit (think men with their shirt only partially un-tucked ‘cause THAT”s cool, ya know), with hair and makeup perfectly in place staidly clapping to “modern” cutting edge” worship gives me the heebies.

Now to answer your question:
Yep, sadly it’s representative of South Florida churches. I think that’s all we’ve got.

revolution said...

I can see where the upper class "feeling" comes from, but I would have to disagree with the "limited nature/appeal" of these churches.

I'd say their attendance is much more diverse, both in ethnicity and age, than you surmise.

Think of it like pop music. You may not personally care for Britney Spears, but her popularity is undeniable.

I don't think these churches are filling a niche, I think they are hitting the broadest spectrum possible.

I don't think that a tendency towards conformity is bread by these specific churches, I think that "lemming" tendancy is found in most churches everywhere, contemporary, traditional, or progressive.

I would agree that these churches would not be particularly relevant to me personally on some levels, but neither would I deny their effectiveness at presenting the Gospel to the population at large.

So far, I have found that I am not in the majority or the mainstream in my beleifs, convictions, personality, and preferences.

This doesn't make me right or better, just different. Not to mention, that I am a work in progress.

Anonymous said...

I would have to add a third criteria, which for me is rated above "relevant worship". Is the organization making an impact on their community in a real way?

To me, the whole purpose of "church" is to strengthen the body of believers and then reach the surrounding community. Period. By "reaching the community" I mean helping people with real issues in their lives, getting to know people as they really are, loving people for who they are NOW, and things of that nature. James 2:17-18 says "Faith without action is dead. . . show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do." Reaching out into the community is a natural reaction to a healthy Christian body. The good deeds stem from a healthy vine and then produce fruit.

Unfortunately, the list of relevant churches gets really short when you cut through the fluff and say, "OK, so what are you doing? Where are you working? For example, are your single mothers well-cared for?" To repeat James 2:18 . . . talk is cheap, show me the meat!

OK, I'm putting up my soapbox now. ;)

revolution said...

goodness gracious, do you realize how much you're asking?

seriously, though. in order to evaluate that third criteria, i'd have to spend more than an hour or two experiencing a service. though i'm sure i could tackle it if neccessary.

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