St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 5757 Emerald Grove Lane, sought to attract people put off by the rituals and trappings of traditional worship services. Parishioners ripped out the church’s pews, pulpit and communion rail four years ago and installed coffeehouse tables, easy chairs and a cappuccino machine.
Sunday attendance peaked at around 50 a couple of years ago and had been dropping. Services have ceased and the church building is for sale.
“I still think it’s a great idea, but this apparently was not the time or the place,” said the Rev. Randy Hunter, pastor of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Middleton.
The Waunakee site was a satellite church of the larger Middleton church, which continues to operate about nine miles away.
The Waunakee church was built in 1990 as Lord and Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church. After it closed,
St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Middleton took over its assets and began using the site.
The Middleton location continued to hold traditional worship services, while the Waunakee site experimented with a more laid-back structure. Hunter served both sites. His early morning sermon in Middleton was videotaped, then shown on large screens later in the morning at Waunakee.
Afterward, Waunakee parishioners discussed the sermon topic in small groups. The church motto was, “Casual about church, serious about God.”
I tried being casual about church for a number of years... and found that I was being even more casual about God.
It just didn't work.
I've since found something that is working and Church (more specifically and accurately, Mass) is central:
The Catholic Church has a deceptive appearance. From the outside it appears to be a large, imposing organization that is run from the top down. The clergy from pope to parish priest seems to be driven by the power of tradition through a controlling bureaucracy in Rome. From its Sunday worship to its standardized prayers (like the rosary), the Catholic Church looks to the outsider like a monolithic block of uniformity.
This appearance begins to change in the minds of inquirers when they get close to the Church and learn, much to their surprise, that there is a great diversity of devotions, prayers, practices, and even beliefs among members of the clergy and laity. The problem of an imposing uniformity gives way to consternation over which aspects of the Church to consider important.
In such bewilderment, those seeking communion with the Roman Catholic Church are likely to lose sight of what is central to the Catholic faith and to be caught up in peripheral issues that can only be understood in the light of the central truths of Catholicism. It is therefore essential to emphasize the center of the Catholic faith, the Eucharist.
Go read the rest. It's a lecture really on why you can't be casual about church... not in the Catholic Church, while still calling yourself a Catholic. But more than that, it's a lecture on the centrality of Mass for the Catholic who deems him or herself devout.
I am a revert today because of the Eucharist.
Without it, I would become quite casual about church again.