Again, Pr. Beecroft…
This comes from A. Daniel Frankforter's book, "Stones for Bread."
"If worship is to flourish, churches must constantly critique what they do in the name of worship. But they must do so for the right reasons. When worship reforms are driven by a desire to grow a congregation rather than improve it (through strengthening its awareness of the reality of God), a church begins to turn itself into a theater. It may mount a show that draws a crowd, but to no very serious purpose.
American churches are exposed to powerful temptations to make themselves appealing by misrepresenting the Christian faith. Since they are voluntary organizations whose survival depends on their ability to recruit members in a highly competitive market, their leaders tend to develop a business mentality. They fixate on 'the bottom line' and strive to maintain 'market share' by ditching old 'products' and experimenting with new packaging. Seldom do they take seriously Jesus' warning that the message he sends them to preach is not designed to make the apostles popular.
Ecclesiastical journals are full of advice for revitalizing shrinking churches. Much of it is based on the work of pollsters and seers who claim to be adept at discovering what the potential new consumer (i.e., the unchurched public) wants. Their usual suggestions are to fire the organist, hire a rock band, burn the vestments, and take an ax to the pulpit. They blame the falloff in church membership on outdated worship styles and promise growth to any parish that narrows the gap between its worship and the entertainments that enrich other purveyors of American popular culture.
Oddly, however, only a small percentage of people who leave churches say that discontent with traditional worship is the reason for their departure. Most simply dismiss the church as an irrelevant organization whose only function is to perpetuate itself. Such cynicism is encouraged by evangelistic programs that concentrate on growing congregations rather than transforming them. Recruits become seriously disillusioned when they begin to suspect that their church values them less for themselves than as trophies of its success.
The church must meet the challenge of demonstrating its relevance to a skeptical and unredeemed world, and this requires it to speak to the concerns of those whom it hopes to convert in languages they understand. But the church must be mindful of the dangers it faces when it engages the world. A congregation can easily attract the unconverted to its services if it allows them to dictate the terms under which they come. but ultimately such a church may cease to be a church, for it finds that it is preaching nothing that the worldly do not already know."