I appreciate this post from Matt Svoboda on churches and the move to embrace preferences over the gospel. The Rainer quote hangs in my office as a reminder for me; that it is too easy for us to be all about our preferences for things other than the gospel. And when we do this, the church is dying.
To some the churches that come to mind are those small, overly traditional types but in reality it happens at churches of all sizes.
Svoboda pushes in on the idea that preferences are only an issue for the small church.
“Let’s ask another question… “Are there not megachurches full of church members whose personal preferences are greater than their passion for the gospel?” Of course there are, they just prefer loud, dynamic music accompanied by smoke and a laser show. Thom Rainer is absolutely correct, when that happens a churches spiritual vitality and vibrancy begins to die. This is happening all over in America, in churches numerically small and large that vary in all different types of worship, styles, and philosophies.”
“One of the most vibrant churches I have had the pleasure of being a part of is quite traditional. We sat in our pews every Sunday, worshipped to more traditional music, and were surrounded by people both young and old. One of the most spiritually dead churches I have been a part of had music as contemporary as it gets and was over 900+ people. It was growing and growing, year by year. No one would have said it lacked spiritually vibrancy at the time, but after a very rough last several years the proof is in the pudding.”
Svoboda says that “the two healthiest churches I have ever been a part of are very different when it comes to style and philosophy of ministry. Yet, what they have in common is they are made up of people whose passion for the gospel far outweighs their personal preferences.”
All sizes and styles of churches are prone to putting preference over the gospel. May the Lord keep his truth as our driving passion.
HT: Jared Wilson