One size fits all. This is a lie. There was a day when this was thought to be the case. Today, with the advent of a consumer’s society and a plethora of options, one size does not fit all.
From sermons to worship music, and education to programming, people have opinions. They have the options and freedom to choose! The Apostle’s Paul says; “I will be all things to all people for the sake of the Gospel.” (1st Cor. 9:19-23) I believe he is telling us that the Gospel message doesn’t change, but the delivery system does.
There is a Gospel hymn called: “Give Me That Old Time Religion!” This approach might work for some, but not all. This is especially true when you consider what folks consider the best way to worship, learn or fellowship in Church. Are we talking pre-Vatican 2 Roman Catholic liturgy, Black Baptist Gospel style, Lutheran Hymns, and liturgy or Pentecostal Revival? Clearly, there is not just one way to worship or to grow in Faith.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am highly influenced by both my Lutheran upbringing, my seminary education and my experience as a Lutheran pastor. However, even among us Lutherans, we come at things each a little differently. Preaching and teaching styles vary according to the leader and personality of a particular congregation. Hymns and music in one church might not be what flies in another, we do have our opinions, options, and choices.
I guess what I am getting at here is that no one form of worship or approach to education fits for everyone. Sometimes even the theology of a particular denomination works for some and not for others. I am fortunate to have gifted leaders on staff who want the best for the members here in education, worship and community building. We strive hard to reach all generations, but we will never be fully successful. In fact, there will always be folks not satisfied or even approving of what is done here.
I saw a church sign that was posting to Facebook. The sign said; “We began blended worship today, so no one will be happy!” O how true. But today most folks may come to worship to explore a church, but most will stay because of the hospitality of the church. Many are seeking community, a place to meet others of their age and interests. Some folks come to raise their children in an environment that gives guidance on how to live as well as how to love God and others.
The future of the church will not be determined by how well we worship, whatever style that is or what programs we offer. The future of the church will be determined by how God’s love comes into our hearts and goes out into the world. This is the calling of all leaders in the church, whether clergy or lay. How we share the story of Jesus transcends age, gender or culture.
I frankly don’t have answers to all the questions and challenges facing this congregation or the greater church. Whatever we do in mission and ministry, I want to work very hard at not leaving anyone behind. Some may choose to leave because, of course, they have options and choices. But I hope we never intentionally push someone out because they don’t fit a particular approach to mission or ministry.
The disciples once complained that there was someone healing people and casting out unclean spirits in Jesus' name. Jesus replied, (paraphrasing here) as if they are not against us, then they are for us. One size does not fit all! Maybe a little elastic in our approach might help. I know it helps me! God’s Peace!