All morning long, from sea to shining sea, a production of Broadway proportions will occur in thousands of churches, all in an attempt to…well…now that I think of it, I’m not sure what it’s intended to do.
I’m all about excellence. As a worship pastor and choir director, I’ve become convinced that quality and doing the absolute best that we can possibly do is an act of worship. God deserves our best. And I know the value of environment. I understand that the atmosphere in a worship experience is a powerful way to direct the minds and hearts of those participating in worship. After all, I worked for Promise Keepers.
I’m just wondering what the purpose of it all is?
Please hear me out: I’m not the kind of guy who questions motives. I choose to believe that the pastors and worship leaders conducting these services this morning are doing so with the purest of intentions. They desire to see God’s people enter into God’s presence, which results in a changed life.
It’s just that I’m not so sure that this is working.
This is where I’m coming from. We create the best environment possible for the purpose of stirring the emotions and yes – spirits – of those in attendance in hopes that by osmosis or something, transformation will occur. But this has never proven to work. There is no evidence that weekly, ritual attendance at the most elaborately produced church services will ever result in lives being transformed.
Our goal is right, but I fear we’re aiming at the wrong target.
In August or 2012, the Center for Bible Engagement released a study called, Bible Engagement as the Key to Spiritual Growth. It was a study of over 100,000 people over four years, in which they were trying to determine exactly what does and doesn’t result in the greatest life transformation possible. It looked at the effects of key spiritual disciplines and practices such as prayer, Bible engagement, meditation, fasting, church attendance, Sunday school/Bible study, small groups, reading non-fiction Christian books, reading fiction Christian books, listening to Christian music,mission trips, and Christian school attendance, all in an attempt to determine which had the greatest impact on the Christian.
They found that the greatest impact on the Christian life is found in those who read the Bible at least four days per week. They called this “The Power of 4.”
Negative Behavior Reduced by the Power of 4:
- Drinking to excess -62%
- Viewing pornography -59%
- Having sex outside marriage -59%
- Gambling -45%
- Lashing out in anger -31%
- Gossiping – 28%
- Lying -28%
- Neglecting family -26%
- Overeating or mishandling food -20%
- Overeating or mishandling money -20%
Positive Behavior Increased by the Power of 4:
- Giving financially to a church +416%
- Memorizing scripture +407%
- Discipling others +231%
- Sharing their faith with others +228%
- Giving financially to causes other than their church +218%
Who wouldn’t want to see this type of transformation taking place in churches across America?
We desire, with the best of intentions, to see lives transformed. But in many churches, we’re getting distracted by the production on Sunday mornings.
I posted these stats on Facebook yesterday. My friend, Carolyn, put it best when she said, “Wow! This should be front page headlines!”
I agree, Carolyn.