I have been very intrigued reading Dan Kimball’s postings over at Out of Ur. Dan has had two posts about the ending of the Willow Creek worship service Axis, which was one of the first alternative worship services and “church-within-a-church” services/models around. You can read Dan’s posts as he looks at what Axis was all about, and how we probably were or have been influenced by them (whether we know it or not). Read Axis Denied: What should we learn from the demise of Willow’s Next-Gen ministry? and Axis Denied (part 2): What should we learn from the demise of Willow’s Next-Gen ministry?
I don’t lead an alternative worship service or a “church-within-a-church” service….technically. Though it feels that way sometimes. Bel Air Pres and its ministries work really hard at integrating and bringing all the services and ministries together, but I know that can be a tough challenge. Dan gets it and I like what he has to say, when he says:
However, when launching a new worship gathering within an existing church, the questions to ask should be: Are the changes occurring mainly generational (music style, appearance, language), or are the changes bigger? Is a shift in worldview(s) occurring? If it is just a generational change, then you might as well just change the music, add some candles, create hip environment, and play a video of the senior pastor. That’s changing the style, and I think that if we really peeled back the layers of the majority of these alternative services within existing churches, that is what we would find.
I think what happens in most churches is that there is an attempt to change the style, when really what is happening is a larger cultural and worldview shift. And when that is happening, no videos, candles, cool music or incense will address that issue.
So how does a large church with multiple services and multiple ministries with varying ages, bring all of that together?