Mega-Ashrams & Tele-Gurus

An article about the arrest in India of the guru Asaram Bapu–worshipped as the “godman”–for sexually assaulting a 16 year old girl includes some background information which suggests that what has happened in America with Christianity is happening in India with Hinduism. [Read more...]

Baptists embracing the liturgy

A growing number of Baptists are turning to liturgical worship.  So says the Associated Baptist Press and a new book on the subject.  Why?  Because liturgy is inherently “missional.”  And because it attracts young people.

Now that the church growth movement has come completely full circle, could we Lutherans take up a collection to send a copy of this book, entitled Gathering Together:  Baptists at Work in Worship, to every pastor and district executive involved with throwing out the liturgy in the name of being “missional” and attracting young people?  Maybe they will appreciate liturgical worship now that Baptists are doing it. [Read more...]

And now, the worship DJ

Trying to be “contemporary,” as in contemporary worship, requires hitting a moving target, since, by definition, what is up to the minute changes every minute.  This is especially true when it comes to pop culture, which depends for its commercial success on spinning out fashions that rapidly go in and out of style.  And what is “out” becomes looked down upon even more than it was considered cool a few months ago.  (In contrast, what is “classic” never goes out of style.)

So what are churches that want to feature contemporary music supposed to do? Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post writes about a congregation that has gotten rid of its praise band and brought in a DJ.  Read about it after the jump, but here is the killer quote:

And to people younger than 30, the drums and electric guitars of the contemporary rock that dominates much of American Christianity are not only not edgy, “but for them, it’s like singing hymns,” [DJ Hans] Daniels said. “Why does the music you worship to and jam out to have to be completely separate?”

How would you answer that question?

And let’s test the premise:  Those of you who go to dance clubs, do you really want that same kind of music in church?  Wouldn’t you find that embarrassing? [Read more...]

How church growth strategies keep missing the point

Rachel Held Evans tells about how churches that want to reach young people keep missing the point, trying to be cooler and hipper and more contemporary instead of attending to the far greater issues of substance.  Yes, she is calling for a measure of liberalism, but notice what else she is calling for.  Read what she says after the jump and then consider my comments. [Read more...]

Liturgical Baptists

A principle of the evangelical church growth movement is that worship should change to reflect the culture–right?  So some Baptists in Russia have adopted Eastern-Orthodox style liturgy, complete with incense and icons.  Also a church government with bishops and archbishops.  (So if the culture likes to worship that way, would church growth advocates adopt it over the contemporary styles they favor, but are perhaps growing stale?  You Baptists, is there any theological reason why you could not worship like this?  Calvinist Baptists couldn’t, of course, given the Calvinist theology of worship, but how about the rest of you?) [Read more...]

Stranger in a Strange Church

Philip Jenkins cites the prescience of science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, whose novel Stranger in a Strange Land, written in 1961, posits a church of the future that sounds strangely prophetic:

“At a time of social chaos, seminary reject Joseph Foster proclaimed a spiritual message uniquely suited for America, a nation that had always combined public puritanism with private libertinism. But why not combine the two instincts, creating a religion that spoke the language of fervent piety, while tolerating virtually any behavior? . . . . [Read more...]


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