retailchanges

Ask ten people what is behind the massive shake-up in the retail industry and you will probably get eleven different answers. The truth is probably found in a combination of them. E-commerce has changed shopping habits, to be sure. A generation that grew up on malls no longer has as much need to buy what retailers are offering. They are trying to rid themselves of all the "stuff" they've accumulated over the years! Millenials' tastes in products and shopping venues are not those of boomers. The Amazon juggernaut seems unstoppable.

In a similar way, if you ask ten people what is causing the change in America's worship habits and attitudes, you will probably get eleven different answers, too. Observers note that denominational loyalty is off (much as it is in retailing). While traditional worship still has its followers, even among some young adults, so-called contemporary worship holds the first place today. Ways of engaging members has changed, too. Whereas one first had to belong to a church before being asked to participate or hold an office, no such "rule" exists in many non-denominational churches. Couples who come from different denominational backgrounds find that going to a non-denominational church is a workable compromise.

But there are some false explanations, too. Contemporary worshipers are accused of being drawn in by "feel good" worship and messages. Others criticize them for promoting "experiential" worship. But those phrases need much more unpacking. What worshiper in a traditional service does not wish to go home feeling good? In fact, if they don't, we say that they heard too much Law and not enough Gospel. Several worship settings urge the worshiper to leave, "thank(ing) the Lord and sing(ing) His praise, tell(ing) everyone what He has done." And what He has done has been done for me! As for criticizing "experiential" worship, this, too, needs to be unpacked. What worshiper in a traditional service does not wish to go home without having had an experience of God? One of our hymns says it clearly, "Here, O my Lord I see you face to face; here would I touch and handle things unseen." Still another criticism is an apparent lack of concern for doctrine among the non-denoms. Explain to them that you don't need to be rebaptized because you were already baptized as an infant. See how unconcerned they are about that! Talk about the end times from an amillenial perspective and see how they react to that! Talk about what happens in communion and see if they agree.

Do you really want to see what's attracting people to those churches? There's no better way than visiting your local "big box" church and see it for yourself. Far better than assuming what you see on network TV services is what you will find in your hometown version. It may be, but you won't know until you've been there and asked others, "What drew you to this church?" Nobody wants you to become an imitator, but it would help you get a better picture.