Here is a beautiful YouTube video of the reading of the Nicene Creed which dates back over a 1,000 years in the the Christian church. This recitation was done at Trinity Lutheran Church, Klein, TX during the March 4, 2012 church services by three members of Trinity as part of Lutheran Schools week. These three members, and students (former and present) are: Mr. Erich Klenk, 97 years old, confirmed in 1928, past Chairman of the congregation, charter member of the Men’s Club in 1946, and Trinity’s oldest member. Lyle Lovett, great grandson of Trinity founding father Adam Klein, confirmed in 1971, singer/songwriter, and winner of four Grammys. Erin Pali, class of 2016 and current 4th grade student of Miss Marilyn Peterson/ Erin’s Dad Brett also had Miss Petersen in 4th grade during his years at Trinity. This video was posted to YouTube by Pat Blake.
Instead of pursuing faithfulness the sentimental church must provide a place where people can come to hear a comforting message from an effusive pastor spouting fervent one-liners which are intended only to make us feel good about the decisions we’ve already made with our lives. If our beliefs aren’t actually, really true then at least we can have a Hallmark moment, right? Above all the sentimental church must never teach us that in the kingdom of God, up is down, in is out, and nothing short of dying to ourselves and each other can help us truly live.
Perhaps more than sentimentality, pragmatism is ravaging the church. Pragmatism has led to a fairly new niche industry I call the Church Leadership Culture. Taking their cues from business, church leadership manuals are more than willing to instruct the interested pastor in how to gain market share. I once heard church consultant and leadership guru Don Cousins say that you can grow a church without God if you have good preaching, great music, killer children’s ministry, and an engaging youth minister. Cousins should know. He helped build Willow Creek Community Church and the church leadership culture. In the pragmatic church, there is only one question that matters, “What will work to grow my church?”
I think Ed Stetzer is spot-on correct, and he makes his case in a vivid manner. You can read the whole thing here. Here is a snippet from his blog post.
As a speaker at a number of conferences each year, I continue to see pastors and leaders going from one workshop to another searching for “THE” answer. They show up and hear amazing stories about implausibly happy people who willingly follow a new vision for their lives and their church. They have heard all the strategies and promises, but for many small-church leaders, the conferences, led by rock star celebrity pastors, are like “ministry pornography”– an unrealistic depiction of an experience they’ll never have that distracts them from the real and wonderful thing. In other words, the lust of the megachurch distracts them from the mission of their church. (I’m not anti-big church–I preach at a megachurch every week– but I am also pro-small church.) The reality is that smaller churches can thrive, too. More than 65 percent of the churches that participated in the research survey for Comeback Churches (B&H)–the book I co-wrote with Mike Dodson– had under 200 regular attendees. Smaller churches are not always unhealthy churches; it depends largely on their mindset. In our research, we found that the small churches which experienced revitalization often did so around prayer and outreach.