More on the degeneration of modern churches

Speaking of modern churches sliding into degeneracy, here’s a funny story out of Wisconsin (h/t Fr. Z.):

St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 5757 Emerald Grove Lane, sought to attract people put off by the rituals and trappings of traditional worship services. Parishioners ripped out the church’s pews, pulpit and communion rail four years ago and installed coffeehouse tables, easy chairs and a cappuccino machine.

The Middleton location continued to hold traditional worship services, while the Waunakee site experimented with a more laid-back structure. [Pastor Rev. Randy] Hunter served both sites. His early morning sermon in Middleton was videotaped, then shown on large screens later in the morning at Waunakee.

Afterward, Waunakee parishioners discussed the sermon topic in small groups. The church motto was, “Casual about church, serious about God.”

Sort of like the utterly atrocious agape cafe idea Kristor rightly roasted a while back. Thankfully, this story has a happy ending:

Sunday attendance peaked at around 50 a couple of years ago and had been dropping. Services have ceased and the church building is for sale.

Why do people keep doing the exact same thing, over and over again, thinking that this time, somehow, it’ll work?

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7 thoughts on “More on the degeneration of modern churches

  1. I used to work across the street from a megachurch. Never attended the services, but they had a great coffee bar, with much better coffee than the watery swill provided for free at work.

  2. I was raised Lutheran (Missouri Synod), and it always boggled my mind how the leaders of the church never understood what was obvious to me and many others, that so much of my generation (+/- 40 or so) was desperate for a return to traditional services and was utterly turned off by the innovations designed to attract more people, which really just watered down the message to the point of meaninglessness. It is not surprising these churches are drying up and blowing away.

    • In answer to the question about why churches keep trying this approach — I would hazard the guess that they keep doing it because, in some places, it works. But I suspect that it “works” mostly with a narrow profile of attendees. Here’s sort of an example. Back around 1980 I attended a formal Missouri Synod church in southern Oregon. As far as I remember, attendance was good. Since then I have visited this church, which has gone to a more informal service — granted, nothing like the WELS church in Proph’s posting. It is very well attended indeed. However, almost everyone there fits a profile of being in their early sixties-into seventies, I would guess. This makes me wonder if a relatively narrow band of people who “always” attended the church now like the informality they experience when they go to church. They may sometimes bring friends, who would find the ambiance non-threatening, probably pretty pleasant. But here’s the thing: this church flanks the local university campus. Other than something like the Newman Center and the small Orthodox group that meets in its building, it must be the church closest to the campus — literally just across the street from a residence hall. But when I have visited, at least — admittedly, during the summer — I see no college-age people at all. I’m in my fifties and I’m young for this group. Could it be that the main audience, at least in conservative Lutheran circles, for this kind of relatively casual service, is a group that won’t be around much longer?

      My sense is indeed that a lot of the younger pastors are much more keen on tradition than the pastors who go for the “informal” approach, some of whom might men who had some sympathies with Seminex for all I know.

      (Seminex was the liberal-leaning group that was estranged from the LCMS when it refocused on solid Lutheran doctrine circa 1970. It is often pointed out that denominations usually become more “liberal” over time. This was not the case with the LCMS. The relatively “liberal” pastors are, I think, retiring and dying out.

      • My sense is indeed that a lot of the younger pastors are much more keen on tradition than the pastors who go for the “informal” approach…

        This is my experience in the Catholic Church, as well. Much is sacrificed to appeal to nominal Catholics, the sort who don’t go to Mass regularly because the Pope is a misogynist (or whatever), to the point that we even dumb down or corrupt the liturgy to appeal to their sensibilities. Meanwhile, there is a large and growing segment of young Catholics actively in love with the traditional Mass, which few priests would even countenance offering and for whom relatively fewer concessions are made. Thankfully the momentum is shifting precisely because the liturgical progressivists are largely fossils and are dying off without being replaced, their children being apostates.

  3. I am looking forward to any attempt to undermine the Satanic Kingdom; including secular attempts; due to an absense of religious anti-Catholicism. Although one may find that these so-called secularists are just as Catholic as a ‘devout’ one. Spritually–unlike Protestantism, although we have plenty–being ‘secular’ does not make one not a Catholic. They are as Jews; a baptismal into their collective is sufficient.

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