Jun 28, 2010

The Problem With The Community Church Model

Okay, so I know I am going to step on some toes out there and I am prepared for the backlash, but it has got to be said and I am going to say it.  I have a real problem with the Community Church model sweeping the country for the last decade.  The Word of God will never return void and I do not discount the good these churches are doing.   They succeed in their focus areas of getting people through the door and they boast quite an impressive record for bringing folks to Christ.  That is great and I do not dispute that, but what happens down the road?

The preaching and the services are so formulated and bland in their desire to be hip it is head shakingly boring.  Here is the formula - cool folks in T-shirts and jeans greet you from behind sun glasses.  You are invited in and given coffee and encouraged to fill out a "Connection Card".  You are ushered into a dark auditorium where the praise and worship band will begin with a Chris Tomlin worship song, followed by a "Just" prayer by the worship leader(who is another cool dude with sandals, jeans, and a T-shirt).  You know the "Just" prayers that I am talking about?  They are full of  lots of verbal pauses, and they go something, like:

Lord, we just come to you today, Lord, worshiping you, just where we are Lord.  We just ask you today, Lord....

So after the obligatory Chris Tomlin worship song, the band launches into one of their originals that no one knows and sounds remarkably like the one they just did, only to finish off with a third one that sounds exactly like the first two.  This last one though is accompanied by frantic over the head hand clapping that is copied by a few die hards in the first three rows.  If the Holy Spirit is moving, He stirs the crowd, but I do not find much evidence of this watching the performance on stage.

After 15 refrains of the final song, the lights are dropped dramatically and then we have a short film or drama that demonstrates where the message that morning is headed.  The Pastor comes out and he of course is identically dressed to the worship leader and the greeters except his hair is perhaps better and if it is a special occasion his T-shirt is accompanied by a sport coat.  He reads from his power point notes and you are invited to fill in the blanks in the printed notes they have conveniently provided for you when you entered the building.  It's the same sermon as last week, and last month, and last year.  It comes straight from the baby bottle and it is life fulfilling nutrients to the new born.  The infants hear it with open heart and tears in their eyes.  They are moved and get saved.  Unfortunately, this was the last bit of moving truth you are likely to get at a community church.

You see the model is designed to get you into the Kingdom and give you milk to drink as an infant.  When you are ready to move up to solid food, you are encouraged to "Join a Connection Group", because you will never get a bite of solid food at church again.  Thus, what you end up with is people who are on fire with the initial passion of a Born Again life and a whole congregation of starving toddlers who are still being fed milk when they are long past the time they should be weaned.

Community churches need to recognize their congregations are starving and start giving their people solid food and meat to eat in their walk with the Lord or they are destined to fail.  It greatly concerns me that we have thousands of new Christians who do not know the first thing about really living the Christian Faith and getting into the deep things of God.  They are never weaned passed the basic salvation message and it is in our human nature to embrace the new but once the mystery and the newness have worn off to move on to other pursuits.  The deep things of God are enough to keep a person fed for a life time and it is the Pastors job to insure their flocks are given milk, solid food, and meat in each and every service.