Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Whatever Happened?"

I am reading a book which asks the question: "Whatever happened to the church I loved?" Whatever happened to the church I grew up with? What has happened to all of our favorite traditions, customs, hymns, programs etc? The church is changing and with it our style of worship. Are we changing simply for the sake of change or are these changes necessary to welcome a new generation of Christians and seekers? In the process, what do we lose and what do we gain? What do we need to change or add or delete to be sure that the Gospel message remains current, exciting and meaningful? What are people looking for in church and from the church so that they may experience Abundant Life? How do we proclaim Good News without loosing our soul? Dive in!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Pastor Carl: Very thoughtful topics on your blog. Keep reminding people at church about it to encourage further participation. To your topic:
The ELCA website says our church has 4,774,203 baptized members in 2006, down from 5,180,910 a decade ago. That is a potential loss of 406,707 members. At the same time, according to the congregational report, our congregation grew from 643 baptized members in the year 2000 to 894 in 2007: a growth rate of 39%! We have truly been blessed by so many new members. How was this achieved? I think in large part to the large degree that you have involved the church members in the life of the congregation. The church becomes a place for all people to serve the Lord. To answer your question, I think worship should reflect the same diversity of styles so many people feel comfortable participating and attending our church. Change is good as long as everyone is along for the ride and it is not implemented without thoughtful planning and much prayer! The ELCA faces challenges: we must reach a greater percentage of young people and families through our ministries in the community.
The Good News is that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

Anonymous said...

One more story:
The congregation that I grew up in as a child, Reformation Lutheran Church, in Westminster:
found an innovative solution you might be familiar with to grow their membership according to the ELCA website by 232% from 2000 to 2007. They hired Pastor Lackey, who was 26 at the time, fresh out of seminary and he found new families and neighbors to attend the church. The older generation had passed on and the church had shrunk noticeably. But the Lord blessed the faithful core of congregants and guided them, keeping the old church going strong. The worship style has evolved naturally with the wishes of the new group of congregants. We truly walk by faith day by day, trusting in our Lord's leadership.

Don said...

Uh, let me guess . . . You got the book!

Great read, isn't it? I really appreciate the comments of Mr(?) Glick! Very informative

God bless you, neighbor!

bill said...

I believe that sticking to the basics and tradition are very important. It seems like churches the change to suit the times and lifestyles (i.e. Catholic Church in America, Episcopal Church...) are in great trouble while religions that strictly adhere to their teachings are thriving (i.e. Mormons, Islam, Evangelical denomiations). People are looking for guidance and direction from above, not looking for religion (or God) to change to accomodate their whims and behaviors.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Carl: I agree with Bill's comment that sticking with tradition and the basics are important. My uncle was an Episcopal priest and I understand how much controversy has filled that church. Some of their congregations have tried to separate and form new alliances outside the main church. People look for consistency in their church leaders; we should reflect the Lord's work in our actions. God doesn't change so we trust in Him. In a confusing world, our prayers are always heard. Good points to consider. Thanks, Bill.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, when I am feeling low, I have a personal liturgical session using Setting 2 in the LBW. It brings back good memories. But as musically familiar and deep as that setting is, it is insufficient to bring me out of a spiritual funk. "What happened to the church I loved?" In some ways it ceased to exist centuries ago, possibly even before Luther's time.

The church we grew up in is comfortable, and now that it is far, we want to relive the nostalgia of those times. But more important is reliving the deeper relationship that God wanted to have with us when we were closest to him. As I grow older, something in me tries to cling to the memories instead of the relationship. The memories are a little easier to hold on to; relationships take work. How can we make the Gospel message current? Make sure that it centers on a deep and abiding relationship with God himself instead of memories of style.