Yesterday’s post looked at the basic elements of a great rock concert and then asked the question, “What (in the eyes and minds of many church planters and attenders) makes for a great church?” My experience and observation (and they may be wrong) lead me to believe that, in the 21st century USA, most church planters and church attenders think a great church has:
- A great band. Recruitment of talented musicians is a must, especially musicians that can emulate popular Christian artists, and maybe U2. Music, after all, is the essence of crowd worship.
- A great frontman. While not part of the band, the frontman of the church–the preacher, pastor, talker, communicator, whatever–is the face of the church. Without him, the entire ship would sink. The most important part of the church event (that phrase will come up later) is the sermon, message, talk, whatever. The entire event builds to this particular individual and his oratory (never thought I’d get to use that word).
- A great support team. Sound techs, greeters, children’s area, refreshments, parking lot attendants, and the list goes on and on. A great church evidently needs a large group of volunteers to make sure the event runs smoothly.
- A great production. Video production, stage design specifically themed around the oratorical series of the frontman. In big churches with big budgets, these are coming close to Hollywood quality productions. They keep the event fresh, engaging, and relevant (because relevancy is most important).
Eerily similar to a great rock show. The difference is that communion at a rock show consists of nachos and beer while church has bread and juice (sometimes wine), and the frontman talks about struggles with sex, drugs, and life while the frontman at a church talks about how following Jesus will help you overcome sex, drugs, and have a good life.
A very conservative estimate is that on ticket sales alone, $150,000 was made at the STP concert (it was much higher when you factor in fees, merchandise, and food/beer sales). Every Sunday, people pay “for their ticket to the show” in churches where the event looks like a rock concert. All of the above elements reveal that we see church as an event and not as a lifestyle to be lived. Don’t believe it? Follow the money. Most of the money made and spent by churches goes into the Sunday event. There are some churches who give away more than they spend on themselves, but they are the exception. Most of the money spent by churches goes into a 60 – 90 minute service and the facilities they meet in. Each week, the cycle continues.
Maybe I’m being over sarcastic or disillusioned. But I’ve been there. I’ve done rock ‘n roll church. I’m not denying that many people have come to know Jesus through this. I’m just wondering if there’s a better way.
Because church isn’t about a showy event. It’s a lifestyle to be lived. More on that tomorrow.