Is Convenience Ruining The Church?

In my upcoming book, “Unique: Telling Your Story in The Age of Brands and Social Media,” I tell the story of a pastor who never preaches for more than 12-15 minutes because he feels that’s all he can demand of his audience. Today, many churches across the country are slaves to the clock, and wouldn’t think of pushing a service past the hour mark. Last week I was in Nevada shooting some television segments with Pastor Benny Perez from The Church at South Las Vegas. We started talking about the “convenience” culture that’s rising in churches across the country. I even posted recently on Twitter about a company that’s combined the wine and bread into one disc so Communion services can happen more quickly, and be more, well, “convenient.”

Benny told me about a conversation he had with a new church member a few weeks before. She was a hair stylist and had just recently become a Christian, and her life up to that point could not have been more different. In other words, before giving her life to Christ, she was about as non-religious as you could get.

The subject of length of church services came up, and she gave Benny a surprising answer: “Hey, if I’m going to get up, get dressed, and go to something that matters, I’d feel cheated if it only lasted an hour.” She said, “It’s not about convenience, it’s about an experience. If God is there, what’s the rush?

Maybe our well-intentioned desire for “convenience” has gone a little too far. Better yet, maybe if lives were actually being changed during the service, people wouldn’t be shuffling toward the door during the closing prayer.

How compelling is your service? Do your people want more of God, or a better seat at the buffet down the street?

 

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 at 6:00 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • Joan Ball

    I’d say the issue is pandering, attention to quantity rather than quality and focusing on marketing solutions rather than discernment of the will of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit to fill seats that’s the biggest problem. Convenience is just one crayon in that box…

  • Matthew Feltner

    Good post. The seeker friendly churches that crunch 45 mins of worship with 15 mins of preaching are missing the mark. The word of God is more important than 15 mins. Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. How can faith be built if the Word is not being shared? How can we expect to grow as a body of Christ when we limit our relationship with the Father? I think sharing the Gospel and allowing God to move thru people at church is more important than Sunday football or front row parking at the restaurant.

    Stop worrying about offending man and start thinking about pleasing God. My $0.02.

    • Keith

      “45 mins of worship with 15 mins of preaching “…I’ve alway been taught (from the pulpit and elsewhere) that the entire service is worship – not just the music. The “praise & worship time” begins when we sit down and doesn’t end until we leave.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maryjo.castro Maryjo Petersen Castro

    Good subject Phil! You mentioned people leaving a service before the closing
    prayer. I’ve seen people disturbing others while trying to get out of their
    seats and make it to the door during an alter call, or while our pastor is only
    beginning to close his message. I’ve even seen their bad manners displayed when
    we have a guest speaker (this is embarrassing). I’m not talking about a couple
    of people here, droves. Our pastor has addressed this issue many times over the
    years, as it is disrespectful to the Holy Spirit to disrupt and leave. People want to beat the crowded hallways when they pick up their kids
    in classrooms and to make it out of the ridiculously packed out parking lot
    before everyone else, and yes – to the buffet … I get it, but not at the
    expense of disrupting a service, people in their seats and/or while God is
    present and doing a work.

  • http://fieldusa.org/blog/ Phillip Longmire

    I was a preacher for 13 years before going on the road and sharing my faith outside the walls of the church.

    Nothing wrong with Sunday Morning, but there are expectations. Church people are conditioned to a certain way…right or wrong…
    What changes with sharing the story and mission of God outside that environment…is that all bets are off when you take the gospel and apply it to someones life.
    Time no longer matters because it is personal…I sat in a bar one night until closing telling people about Christ…they asked me to share…so i did…while another was a group in front of a weekly stay hotel that lasted 30 minutes…
    I think you take as much time as needed to convey the message God gave you for that time and place.

    Who is your audience…

    I often wonder why church people need so much time on Sunday Morning…we are all over taught the stories found in scripture. It would be fun to learn how those teachings are applied in the lives of those sitting there…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692421585 John Reid

    The problem i’ve seen is that there is no direct application of what is being preached during the services. Most people are conditioned to just sit back and listen to a sermon that doesn’t reveal the truth about sin and the need for salvation but instead messages that appeal to our flesh to make us feel better. Perhaps if the church focused on the will of God as opposed to pleasing man we would see life-changing experiences in peoples’ lives each week.

  • hcandotwo

    I am really struggling with the church of “convenience.” I am concerned that the clock dictates the moving of the spirit. If the Spirit is moving we do not need to be told in the middle of it that He is moving, and then move on to the next part of the program. Get rid of the slides, pray to God for a real message, for His people, then get out of God’s way and let Him work.

  • Bob

    Yes! Make it worthwhile. Unless your message is only worth a few minutes at the end of a service dominated by other people’s whim and wanderings.

    You want 45 minutes of music and announcements? Start service an hour earlier and have a 5 minute intermission before the message starts. Give folks a few moments to stretch and potty before the main event. They’ll be refreshed, and when the message is only an hour long they’ll still get out 10 minutes early!

    Check out David McGee’s message length — check a few at http://www.aboutthebridge.com/teachings/new_testament/ from the Sunday morning services. Then listen to the messages. Solid scriptural teaching … application to MY life … and at the end of it, you’re left wanting more. And more people wanting to come as they hear it.

    People asked him, “What are you giving away at your church?” It’s easy … the Word of God!

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