When I was in elementary school I remember going on a trip with my family and a few other families to observe “contemporary services” at a few churches in Birmingham, AL. Our family was at a large traditional church at the time, and they were considering the possibility of adding a contemporary service.
Contemporary services are second nature now. Everybody has some form or variation. What’s interesting to me, though, is how churches think that having a contemporary service automatically makes them more likely to grow and reach young people. The thought is that by having a guitar on stage and letting people wear jeans that somehow young people will want to come to church. (Ironically, these are also often the same people who criticize churches for “entertaining people” and watering down the gospel.)
Contemporary services may have been a big deal to previous generations, but most everybody in my generation thinks of the contemporary church as normal. I don’t know anybody my age who would be shocked and marvel at a worship team, or who would be surprised they could dress casually. The contemporary church is not the draw it used to be.
The problem with this is that churches are just getting back into the same traditional cycle they tried to leave. Fifteen years ago, services geared towards college students were new and exciting. Today, those services are the norm. Nothing new has emerged for students (at least that I’m aware of).
It doesn’t take an expert to see that something else is coming. Something new is going to emerge. Based on a few conversations I’ve had with church leaders who are a little older than I am, I’d say it has less to do with a style and more to do with an attitude of intentionality. To use Rick Warren terminology, it’s going to be a purposeful process of moving people from “come and see” to “come and die”. This really excites me, because I think that’s what I’m most gifted and passionate about.
You’ve probably seen this same dynamic I’m talking about, so in your mind, what’s next? What’s the new thing coming? What big shift will the church take? How should the church change? What’s the next “contemporary”?