I'm in trouble when it comes to the seeker service. Not with anyone else, but with myself. I usually evaluate a new idea in light of some basic convictions I hold to, and then come to some conclusions. But when I evaluate the seeker service in light of such convictions, I come out both for it and against it.
Articles in this issue:
Reaching out—for many Reformed churches that's become the focus of the nineties. Congregations who in the past seemed content to minister to their own and to those in distant places are now taking a closer look at the men, women, teens, and children who live and work in the church's neighborhood.
No longer is it safe to assume, as it was in former decades, that the majority of these people have church homes of their own. Surveys have shown that the numbers of people with no church ties continue to grow.
"I love playing the heavy!"
"I love these plays. They're a great way to get to know other people in the church."
"I've been impressed with what a powerful impact they have."
"It's a way I can give something to the church. Maybe the Lord can use me to reach someone."
"So often people have said that the drama really spoke to them."
"They're just so much fun!"
Stephen Githumbi, raised in a Kenyan village and later educated in theology in the US, has had close experience with the Christian church in both cultures. He offers the following observations on celebration in African worship as "a way of living out the Christian faith that can be instructive to the American church."
It was so easy for so long—so natural that we did it almost without thinking. Worship, that is.
Jerusalem was our home, not only geographically but culturally. And so we were at home with everything. Including worship. It was a reflection of us, of our people, and of our culture. We spoke the same language, sang the same rhythms, danced the same dances.
Lyle Schaller, the church-growth guru, suggests that one strategy for revitalizing a church is to cancel the "summer slump." Most churches do go through a slump period in the summer: the pastor and the choir go on vacation; the Sunday School doesn't meet; and church attendance drops dramatically. Schaller points out that summer is also the time when the greatest number of visitors (and potential new members) come through most churches, so he advocates maintaining a full program throughout the summer.
Things are not going smoothly at First Church. Everything was quite peaceful and predictable until the new pastor arrived. He hadn't been on the job for more than a few weeks before changes started creeping into the liturgy.