Death of the Sermon?

Christianity has always been growing, changing, and evolving.  In recent years the rate of change has accelerated.  Here in America the shift toward a less religiously affiliated population is well underway.  Recent research has led many experts to speculate that it is reasonable to think the nones (those with no religious affiliation) will grow even more rapidly in the next few decades. For those who have chosen to remain a part (or who have opted to become a part) of Christianity, corporate Read More …

Worship: Mainline Church Planting Trends

The Ecumenical Partners in Outreach collaborated with the Center for Progressive Renewal to conduct the largest study (so far this century) of church planting activities in the major mainline churches of the US and Canada.  A 12 page summary of findings, available online free of charge, highlights eight key insights. Insight #7 Worship Matters (p.11) Time spent on worship relates strongly to growth, at least among traditional and new immigrant churches. Among alternative churches trying Read More …

Changes in Worship Services

Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, recently shared a list of rapid changes in church worship services.  His list includes the disappearance of choirs (down 10% in just 10 years), the emergence of screens as normative in worship, a shift toward more casual dress for worship, and longer sermons. So What? Worship services have changed dramatically in recent years.  Rainer's use of the word rapid to describe several shifts is significant. As religious affiliation Read More …

WHCB: Worship

Christian Piatt includes worship on his list of five things that are holding Christianity back.  He suggests that we have "gotten off track" in several ways, including the tendency to continue to see worship as a primary entry point into a faith community. Reality Check In my experience, the first way folks prefer to encounter a local community of faith varies widely.  While no one factor can adequately serve as an across the board filter, age is perhaps the best option.  Overall, those Read More …

Valuing Diversity: The 75% Rule

Corey Widmer, associate pastor for outreach at Third Presbyterian Church (Richmond, VA), recently wrote about something known in his congregation as the 75% rule.  He explains: When we gather together to worship on Sundays, everyone should be happy with no more than 75% of what is happening during the worship service.  Why such a strange rule? Because we realize that in our culturally diverse congregation, if you are happy and comfortable with more than 75% of what is going on, it most likely Read More …

Worship Practices (in the USA)

"FACTS on Worship: 2010," the latest Faith Communities Today (FACT) report, provides insight into the current worship practices in churches by means of an aggregated data set that includes responses from over 11,000 congregations affiliated with over 120 denominations. Worship is changing.  The latest research shows increasing diversity in several areas, including: Time: Most services are held on Sunday morning (74%), but other weekend options are significant:  Sunday evening (16%), Read More …