Faith Fitness (October 29)

Greetings friends of the faith. We had yet another superb weekly meeting of our Faith Fitness group. We finished our topic about the two greatest commandments, those all-important , all inclusive verses Jesus emphasized about loving God and others.

Our Faith Fitness group has shifted to a topic about the many varieties and styles of Christian spirituality. Everyone attending this meeting shared thoughts, many expressing personal anecdotes about different forms of Christian worship they had experienced over the years. Some remarked about lengthy, lively Sunday worship services that last two or even three hours and that are popular among certain minorities and ethnic groups. Other folks talked about the conflicts that arise when Christians argue over which style of faith and worship best pleases God. Still other attendees mentioned the rise of churches that are modern, comfortable, and designed to give people what they most want and need.

Another emphasis in our group concerned  what seems to be the most popular forms of worship style among churches that are growing. We discussed the rise and dominance within evangelical Christianity of worship models that are progressive in their methods while remaining conservative theologically. Compared with historic forms of mainline Christianity, the emergence of more informal, high-energy and technological, media-driven Sunday celebrations have become the norm among the largest and fastest growing churches.

One challenge we talked about in our group focused on what the “oldline” or mainline Protestant denominations are willing to do to attract people. With the overall percentage of the American population who attend church declining, and with mainline churches bleeding to death, the stakes are higher than ever as churches compete for hearts and souls.

For about the past thirty-five years, the most successful ministries have had to reinvent Christian outreach from the ground upwards. No longer content to sit in musty sanctuaries echoing with dry sermons, people have voted with their feet and sought churches that make Christian ministry relevant, exciting, and even entertaining.  Dismissing the growth of these vibrant ministries as fads or trends belies the fact that churches refusing to accommodate peoples’ stylistic choices are closing at a dizzying pace.

Although there is not always a clear path forward, those in our Faith Fitness group realize that their church must struggle and find a way forward that accomplishes revitalization while also keeping necessary traditions intact. Often, experimentation is the best way to advance as different strategies may prove more or less effective at any given church.

As a good way to move forward, people realized that our church must study itself and decide what is up for change, and to what extent. We agree that we must continue to minister to our base of supporters while simultaneously reaching out to people whose idea of church may be different from ours. As part of our self-study we also acknowledge the need to create a mission/vision statement that encapsulates who we are and what we want to accomplish in the universe.