Ah, the first post on a new blog. The pressure is agonizing.
Should I be insightful, inspiring, challenging, or informative? Should I take on some hot topic issue to generate heated discussion or should I play it safe and host a big group hug? Should I choose my words carefully since the world will be watching or can I pretty much write whatever I want to because no one’s going to read them anyway? Should I cut and paste an interesting post from another blog or create my own? Should I try to write something so spiritual and creative that it will make Max Lucado green with envy? Yea, good luck with that happening.
I know why I read blogs. I read blogs the same way my parents read the morning pnewsaper. I read blogs to find out what is happening in the world (i.e., the front page), to see what others are thinking about what is happening (i.e., the editorials), and to be entertained (i.e., sports and comics). So, I am sure the blog I create will weave these same elements in some fashion that I hope will generate some discussion among those who call FBC Benbrook their community of faith.
If you are not familiar with how blogs work, the original post is just the beginning. It is the interaction between the readers about the post that makes a blog interesting and what helps to build community. So, I invite you to come and read. Even if you don’t have any great insight to add, toss a comment into the discussion to let us know you are in the room. And of course, treat each other with respect and kindness.
One Small Step…
So, for our first conversation, let’s begin with a discussion about our new worship schedule. We changed our worship schedule in February and have just finished our ninth week. If you are wondering how the numbers are looking, let me give you some information.
Average worship attendance for 2007: 296
Average worship attendance to date for 2008: 329
Average Sunday School attendance for 2007: 217
Average Sunday School attendance to date for 2008: 232
Average attendance for the Traditional service: 202
Average attendance for the Contemporary service: 145
Now, those are just numbers. And everybody knows that statistics never lie but liars use statistics. The bigger questions are more difficult to analyze. Are we reaching more people with the gospel message because of the change? Are more people engaged in worship because of the change? Do you feel more comfortable inviting friends to church because of the change? Is God honored more because of the change? Are you better able to express your love to God because of the change? What has been the unintended costs of the change? Are the costs worth the change? Do you have any suggestions about how to change either of the services to make them more meaningful?
But these are just the tip of the iceberg, the iceberg that threatens to sink passing ships as they try to navigate through the murkey waters of cultural change. In case you haven’t noticed, churches are changing. Worship style is just one of many turbulent forces in the waters. Paradigms (ways of doing things) are shifting and everything is up for re-examination.
How we make decisions (Do we really need to have monthly business meetings where we discuss every issue as a group? Can’t we just trust the committees and staff to make decisions?), how we build community (Does community happen in institutionalized rooms on a church campus or around the kitchen in a home?), how we make disciples (We take for granted that we arrive on campus as families but then subdivide by ages for Bible study, but is this healthy? Is it time to rediscover the idea of studying the Bible together as family units, multi-generational instead of age graded silos?), how we do mission work (The Cooperative Program is the sacred cow of the SBC, but missions is changing. Instead of “send a check,” the battle cry is “send me,” something that sounds strangely biblical. Furthermore, the International Mission Board is no longer the only game in town, and many churches are partnering with a variety of mission networks. Does a Baptist church have to sink all of its mission money into the SBC or can some of the sacred CP money be given to other mission work?), and even how we schedule our activites (Twenty years ago, Southern churches were still offering full worship services on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. We have assumed that to be the biblical way and that to depart from that model was to leave the faith. But there is nothing in Scripture to tell us to gather together on a campus three times a week. As a result, today’s church is examining its use of time. Some host small groups on Sunday night, others only meet corporately on Sunday morning. What is the best use of our time?) are all up for examination.
The future for our church will force us to examine our ways and to test them. If we look at the big picture, a small change in worship schedule and worship styles is really one small step.