Via Deacon Greg, a brutally honest letter to the Church penned by someone named Jonathan over at Ponder Anew, where thinking people discuss worship:
Today, you’re my livelihood, and putting food on my table overcomes the gravitational pull of my mattress on a cold, rainy Sunday morning. Or a hot, dry one. Or any other one. But that pull is still there. It’s always been there. It’s never left.
The truth is, my relationship with you is still love-hate.
I love the theology, but I hate the expectations of pseudo piety.
Love the Bible, hate the way it’s used.
Love Jesus, but hate what we’ve done with him.
Love worship, but hate Jesusy entertainment.
And those other kids I went to church with, I’ve come to find that many of them were misfits, skeptics, and doubters, too. Some of them still go, but more of them have left.
Some of them left because they had no desire to conform to an outdated cultural norm that demanded we keep up appearances by parking our butts in our regular Sunday pew.
They didn’t believe, and didn’t believe they needed to pretend that they did.
Others have left because they grew keen to the bait-and-switch tactics. They’ve left because they didn’t fit in, and couldn’t pretend anymore. They left because the Jesus preached from the pulpit didn’t look much like the Jesus of Nazareth. They left because all the bells and whistles and hooks and marketing rang hollow.
They left because they had been constantly catered to, constantly kept busy, but had never been taught how to be a part of the church.
The programs won’t bring them back.
The coffee won’t bring them back.
The show – the lights, fog machine, the contemporary worship that we think is essential – nope, that won’t do it, either.
But here are a few things that might just work with some of us. They may seem crazy. They may contradict everything you’ve heard. But, as one of these millennials, this is what would work for me, and for a lot of the people I know who have left.
Don’t expect a “worship style” to do your dirty work. Contemporary worship hasn’t worked. The longer we extend the life of this failed experiment, the more we see the results.
In my experience, contemporary worship brings in three groups. Baby boomers who are still stuck in their rebellion against the establishment, parents who mistakenly think that contemporary worship is the only way for their kids to connect to the church, and a small percentage of young adults who’ve never left and who never knew anything other than contemporary worship.
In modeling worship after commercial entertainment, you’ve compromised your identity, and we’re still not coming back.
And even if we did, would there be any church left? Would there be anything beyond the frills, the lights, the performance, the affected vocals? Would we still see a cross? Would we still find our place among the saints who have come before? Would we find reminders of our life-long need of grace?
Or would we have been hooked by something altogether different? Would we merely find your answer key for the great mystery of faith?
Don’t give us entertainment, give us liturgy. We don’t want to be entertained in church, and frankly, the church’s attempt at entertainment is pathetic. Enough with the theatrics. Enough with the lights, the visuals, the booming audio, the fog machine, the giveaway gimmicks, the whole production. Follow that simple yet profound formula that’s worked for the entire history of the church. Entrance, proclamation, thanksgiving, sending out. Gathering, preaching, breaking bread, going forth in service. Give us a script to follow, give us songs to sing, give us the tradition of the church, give us Holy Scripture to read. Give us sacraments, not life groups, to grow and strengthen us.
Not particularly aimed at Catholics but... it could be.
Read the whole thing... it's thought provoking... and then pass it on.