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Jan 9, 2019

Seminarian Ben Woodring joins us to talk about Chortles' 8-point manifesto (of sorts) to culture-proof the church simply and authentically. It was a long talk, be warned.

Here's the manifesto:

There is evidence that younger people are not buying what the megachurches are selling. Most people know of young people that have fled their "home" traditions for Rome for something further east. I actually believe that we'll live to see the contemporary/megachurch bubble burst.

The good news is that the regulative principle of worship and Reformed confessionalism supply actual simplicity and authenticity. You can't make the bible palatable through a thoughtfully-curated set of techniques and aesthetics, but here are some suggestions to consider that might de-culturize the church and make it something that can stand out and stand up in the 21st century:

1) Sing Psalms and ancient hymns without (or with the simplest) accompaniment. Use new tunes if necessary, but don't try to ape what's popular last week. Make sure the Lord's Day worship services look and sound different from the rest of the week.

2) Make communal singing the hallmark of worship and all the gatherings of the church. This teaches and builds cohesion and identity. Have 2-3 psalm snippets that everyone knows. Sing them before, during, or after church meals and other meetings. This is a way of being biblically different.

3) Quit marketing. No one likes to be marketed at. And quit worrying about being "excellent" in things you don't really need to be excellent at. Your logo will not be around in the new heavens/new earth.

4) Emphasize the means of grace -- it's the only thing the church offers that people can't get elsewhere. People have YouTube for how-to, they can be involved in all sorts of things and causes and issues without the church holding their hands.

5) Simplify! (sorta like the Strunk & White's "Omit needless words!") And omit needless words, too. These can be Xianese, stock phrases, personal opinion, culture references, slang, etc. Don't have "programs" -- don't crowd out God's words.

6) Stop trying to contextualize everything, partly because you're not good at it and partly because your context is changing all the time. You cannot keep up.

7) Be consciously reverent, even grave. Where else are people going to get that?

8 - Quit chasing cultural issues that you will never catch.

Bonus -- Ministers should consider wearing simple, non-distracting robes without adornment. This is a great way to de-culturize your church services and take the attention of the dude.

Bonus #2 (put it under #5 above) -- simplify your church calendar to 52 (very) holy days a year. Period.