Throughout the 1990s, churches experimented with the “seeker-friendly” or “Willow Creek” philosophy of church marketing. One of the underlying premises of this philosophy was, if you want to attract “unchurched” people to your church, then the last thing your church should resemble is–a church. Pulpits had to go, replaced by flimsy music stands that could be removed at a minute’s notice. Baptismal fonts and Communion tables had to be kept sight unseen (only to be brought out for the midweek “believers’ service”: Sunday was reserved for the “unchurched”). Many churches got rid of the choir (as we saw last time) in favor of more showbiz-oriented “worship teams” or “praise teams”. In some cases, the choirs stayed around, although they were usually relegated to the role of background singers for the “stars” on the worship team. But even if the choir escaped the axe, the organ (and the organist) almost never did.
So far, the American church in the 21st century is exploring emergent and missional philosophies. (I realize that these terms are not synonymous, but there is considerable overlap between the two.) One of the encouraging aspects of these current trends is that churches have finally realized that most worshipers are longing for a sense of connectedness to historic Christianity. People want to know that they are part of a larger story: a story that began long before we arrived on the scene and that will continue long after we are gone. Seeker-friendly churches could not deliver the goods in this area. Seeker-friendly worship was extremely tied to its own temporal and geographic context, whereas emergent or missional worship tries to reflect a more global view as well as what Robert Webber called the “ancient-future” outlook. One important element, however, is still largely missing:
Bring back the organ.
. . .
Worth a read.