Music and Words

September 10, 2009

Identity Crisis

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 10:31 pm

I am a teacher, sort of, and a musician, sort of. I’m no longer a student but I also haven’t adjusted to being a responsible adult. It’s an awkward time.

Sometimes it feels like a game. Have they figured out that I don’t belong in the “real world” yet? I have to keep everyone from realizing that or they’ll send me back. Not that I even know where “back” is. College, I guess.

Actually, call me crazy, but I liked college. I had friends in my classes and I knew what was expected. No one cared if you said stupid things or made mistakes. Generally, your mistake only affected you anyway.

Now, fast forward a summer, and here I am, going to bed just after 10pm. Who DOES that? Oh, right, adults. Again, where do I fit here?

I can’t even find the coffee in my own house, after all.

September 8, 2009

Institutional Revival

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 10:53 pm

“Is it the gospel that has become irrelevant or your churches? Is the problem God’s message or your methods?” That was Gary Hamel, ranked the world’s most influential business thinker by The Wall Street Journal, speaking at the leadership summit organized by Willow Creek Community Church last month. Hamel cited church consultants Tom and Sam Rainer, who define a “healthy” church as one with a “conversion ratio” of 20:1 or better – in other words, it takes 20 or fewer congregants to bring in one new member. By that standard, only 3.5 percent of America’s 400,000 churches are “evangelistically fit,” said Hamel. In trademark language from his business bestsellers (The Future of Management and Leading the Revolution) Hamel told his audience: “Organizations lose their relevance when the rate of internal change lags the pace of external change. And that’s the problem that besets many churches today.” Secular institutions, he said, are in the same boat. “Think about General Motors, Sony, Motorola, United Airlines, AOL, Yahoo, Sears, Starbucks – how have these companies been doing in recent years? Not too well. And not just because of the recession, but because they got stuck in the mud; they fell in love with status quo … So as church leaders, you shouldn’t feel too sorry for yourselves. You problem isn’t unique, and it isn’t materialism, atheism, skepticism or relativism – it’s institutional inertia.”

Reprinted from WORLD magazine, issue dated Sept 12, 2009, column titled “Institutional Revival”.

Is this what the churches in this country have been reduced to? We judge ourselves based on how many people it takes to get someone new into the church? And we’re more concerned about our ratio than the care of the new believers, or the old ones for that matter?

And we wonder why the rest of the country labels us as uncaring and sometimes even crazy.

Some think that we just need another revival in this country. We just need more people coming to Jesus, like they did back in the last century. Tents, music, and loud preaching – that should just about do it. And those crazy kids? The college students who are lost, and the high school and middle school students who don’t even know they’re clueless? We’ll just tell them about being a Christian, and they’ll be so happy to hear the Good News that they’ll convert instantly!

Did you know most of them have been to church before? A lot of them even grew up in the church. They’re not lost because they don’t know, because they’ve never heard. They’re lost because they don’t care. What is there to tie them to the church after they leave their parents’ house? We’ve tried the cool music, and the friendly atmosphere, and the easy-to-hear message. We’ve even tried the “singles groups” or the “college groups”. Come to church and meet a girl! Find a guy that you’ll want to bring home to your mom! It’s a great marketing strategy for nightclubs, but does the American church really want to be compared to a nightclub?

On the one hand, I don’t agree with Gary Hamel that the church’s problem is not “materialism, atheism, skepticism or relativism.” I think the church in America is, in fact, seriously struggling with a lot of these issues. But he’s a business man, and he had a point to make. I do agree with his point.

The mainstream church in America is trying to serve the same audience as it has for years. I’m talking like a few hundred years. The church is dealing with the people who have been a part of it forever. We preach to congregations that understand our fancy terminology. We attract new people to our church by distinguishing ourselves from other denominations. We’re Baptists, so we’re better than the Lutherans down the street! Oh, well we’re Episcopalians and we’re better than all of you! You get the idea.

The problem is, the audience is changing. To be specific, the audience is getting older. The church seems to recognize a need to reach out to the younger audience, but doesn’t know how. I wholeheartedly agree with Hamel’s premise. The church is an organization that is not changing to meet the needs of its target market. It is still trying to attract the same people it always has. Those people are getting older and passing away, and the church needs to realize this. We need to see this, and do something about it.

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