since beginning my spiritual journey over a decade and a half ago, and more intently over the past few years, I’ve come to realize the fine taste I have for how people do church, and I’m one of the few who enjoys a wide variety of worship expressions (I’ve heard it said that most people can only ‘worship’ in a particular packaging), to the degree that I’m a church connoisseur, and now have the freedom to be churching-at-large.. it’s my observation that with the megachurch movement (paralleling the Walmart phenomena in retailing), people attend church for two things: (1) programming, and (2) people.
On the programming side, people are more consumer minded, and look for the preaching and music that will be most comfortable or engaging to them, and each person has certain criteria of how they best hear God, or how they don’t want to hear God. While how people choose church rest on many factors, the most popular reasons are not theological nor style. It comes down to peripheral issues of parking, music, low expectations of the attender, and children’s program. What a tragic commentary on people’s lack of faith engagement..
On the people side, churches are very much social institutions, with each having a particularly ethos defined by the way a given local church community relates to each other.. if you fit their social strata, then you’re welcome.. if you don’t, then they make it obliquely clear that you’re not welcome — unintentional as it may, it takes intentionality to build relationships. Most churches appoint the smiley-face welcoming-greeters, but the ethos is just plain missing from, b/c the social factors and cliques are already in place. Add to that, some people are very choosy about who they relate with, for whatever excuse/reason.