The Reason It has Changed – Some Choruses, a Pep-talk, and an Offering, part 19 of 20

Who’s changed? Not God. The word used to describe His attribute is immutability. It is why God is often compared to a rock: “He is the Rock…” sang Moses in Deuteronomy 32:4. If we miss Moses’ lyric and metaphor, God declares of Himself: “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). If you want some New Testament, James 1:17 will do: “[God] does not change like shifting shadows.” So if He hasn’t changed, at the very least, shouldn’t the caution sign be up anytime we think its time for Sunday morning to evolve some more?

Within one generation, there has been more change then there was in the previous ten. Why is that? Here are some possible reasons behind all the new ideas and changes:

  1. In 1988, church growth guru George Barna said: “The audience, not the message, is sovereign.” In his book, “Marketing the Church”, Barna explains: “Our message has to be adapted to the needs of the audience.” And off the church went “adapting”—polling the pews and even the unreached and unconverted in neighborhoods asking them what they wanted. Ergo! Sunday morning started to change.
  2. We have become a very casual culture. Lot’s of men don’t own a suit anymore. It is not uncommon to attend a wedding or funeral and see Levi’s. Visit the cubicles of a high-tech company and you find a lot of people in shorts and flip-flops; their dog may even be at their feet. No “fashion policing” going on here but the formal has given way to the casual. Sunday morning capitulated and reflected the new norm. The pulpit was tossed for the podium; the pew for the theater seat; the formal musical accompaniment for the informal; and so on and so on. There has been a growing move from the sacred to the comfortable—henceforth the change.
  3. The belief that Sunday morning is more about evangelism and less about “Word and sacrament”. The church seems to be in a constant state of flux, trying to come up with more and more creative ways to reach the lost on Sunday mornings. The altar has become a stage; the preached Word a video clip. The “worship committee” keeps advocating changes they heard about another church trying, and on and on it goes. When God isn’t sovereign regarding salvation, man starts thinking too much “outside the box” and pretty soon Sunday morning worship can look pretty bizarre.
  4. But this might be the most troubling reason behind all the changes—the belief that we are smarter and more spiritually in-tune than the saints who preceded us. Is the question ever asked: “How come Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Spurgeon, and Lloyd-Jones didn’t do that?” May it not be assumed they would have if we were on their church staff throwing out new worship ideas!

You see, there are reasons Sunday morning worship did not change much through the centuries and reasons why today it has. For the sake of our Immutable God, let’s slow down a bit.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
March 10, 2011

“Amending the Soil” Christian Education Conference

Register or volunteer for Bible Day Camp now