I recently told someone that in the last 15 years I had learned how to pastor all over again as church life had changed. The core principles of a Bible believing church never change and to that extent pastoral work has not changed. But the methods used to carry out unchanging principles change frequently. Below are five changes I have observed.
Church is more participatory.
Members want to do more than just attend, sit and listen; they expect to be involved in ministry. Many members prefer going on a mission trip than serving on a board or committee. Not only does ministry occur on a mission trip, but also spiritual growth as we grow by doing.
Members who do serve on boards and committees expect to participate in the discussions and the decisions.
Worship is more participatory. Music was once primarily provided by a choir, a piano, and an organ. Now music participation involves choirs (notice the plural), orchestra, and praise teams. Sunday, Dr. Boozer announced that NSBC music ministry has a goal of 24 participants in the Easter Sunday morning orchestra and 76 in the choir in addition to the 4 accompanists.
Even Christian concerts are more participatory as attendees want to sing, raise and clap their hands.
Participating with the mind, the emotions, and the body are part of worship, learning, and fellowship processes.
Church is increasingly more visual. While listening is important, folks who are used to receiving their information on a computer screen during the week, like to use this method on Sunday. We remember more of what we see than what we hear. There was a time you were more likely to believe information if it was in print and now, currently we are more likely to believe information if we see it in print and in a visual image.
Church is no longer about attracting a crowd, but about building a community. Folks have a need to connect with people who genuinely care about them. This can happen in a small church or a large church. Large churches have many small communities of faith within them and small churches have several within them. Folks who do not have a group to connect with at church may still occasionally attend but are unlikely to spiritually grow. Community is not accidental, but always intentional.
Small group Bible study is focused more on discipleship than on memorizing information. This does not eliminate the need for Bible study but may change the methods we use. The goal of Bible study is more than only learning information, but also changed and discipled lives. Bible teachers frequently ask their students, “What do you think this means?” Discipleship leaders now follow with a second question, “How are you applying this truth in your life?”
There is more interest in the Bible than ever. A church can no longer thrive by using gadgets and gimmicks but by using every method to make Bible believing and practicing disciples of Jesus.
Your interim pastor,
Dr. Gary Fenton