My wife and I planned to build a house many years ago. We worked with the architect and contractor to design what we considered to be the perfect house for what we could afford. It took into consideration our:
• Lifestyle – there was a ramp to the basement from the garage to move all my equipment without banging up the walls by going through the house. As a bonus, if we ever had a flood it would serve as a great water slide.
• Stage of life – we had small children back then. We wanted to work from home in the evenings instead of heading back into the office so that we could maximize our family time.
• Aesthetic – My wife and I are both from the prairies. Give us big open skies or open designs. Walls are simply there to hold the roof up.
It seems logical to build a house that meets your needs. What works in one setting may fail miserably in another. We live in Canada. We know snow. While we have friends who plant Palm Trees and Cactus in their Arizona yards, we would simply get strange looks from our neighbors if we tried this here.
It also seems logical to build a worship service that meets the needs and interests of the community God has called you to reach. I believe that it is possible to do this without watering down the essence of the Gospel.
The worship service is still the primary source of introduction to those in your community who are trying to find a church home. Unfortunately, some churches are not just user-unfriendly. They’re downright user hostile.
Ask yourself what form of communication and activities people choose in your community? Is this primarily:
• Books or multimedia?
• Point form lectures or stories?
• Classical music or alternative music?
• Wooden benches or comfortable chairs? (Courtroom or Starbucks ™)
• Formal, black-tie dinners or informal barbeques with friends?
• Tuxedos at the opera or shorts on the deck?
Within each community you will get many answers. In most communities, the vast majority are going to choose the second option.
You can choose to meet the needs of many. In this case I believe you need to offer different service options. This can be highly effective. It is also highly work-intensive. Diversity takes effort if you are going to carry it out with excellence! It is important to weigh costs of offering multiple services if you are going to choose this option.
Your other option is to state that you are a certain form of church, reaching a certain demographic of your population and you stay with one style. This can be less effective in reaching a diverse community. But it can also mean a lot less work.
I know wonderful churches who have chosen to define their church’s methods by either one of the above options and have accomplished this with great effectiveness. Whatever, you choose, make sure that it is propelled by your call to mission.
Whatever your choice, it is important that you always re-visit your mission. The ‘hot’ thing that brings growth and increases effectiveness today will certainly change in five years. You must constantly be in transition. It is the only way to remain effective in ministry. The Word of God does not change, but the methods may vary.
Never shy away from the difficult questions of:
• Why are we here?
• Who are we called to reach?
• How do we do this in the current culture?
• Where is the culture going?
• What will it take to get this done?
• Are we ready to take up the call of God to do this?
Once we have answers to these questions, we are ready to take the next step, putting it together.
Now, we're starting to get into the roll up your sleeves material. Check back.