Here's a thought-provoking article from the Internet Monk. And here are Lutheran reactions to that article at Paul McCain's blog. But the idea of Evangelicals looking for churches that feel like churches got me thinking.
If George Barna released a study that concluded that including the Lord’s Supper in a worship service was guaranteed to drive people away from the church, what would you do? If Thom Rainer studied 1,000 unchurched people and found that every single one of them was driven away from a church because the church advocated infant baptism, how would that affect the location of your baptismal font? If you had scientific proof that preaching Christ crucified would keep people from coming back to your church (or never coming in the first place), would you change the content of your sermons?
While the article is encouraging, I think it misses the point. We don’t embrace the liturgy of the church because it draws people in any more than we use Sacraments as ways to draw people in the door. The Sacraments are there because the Lord has given them to us. If they bring people in the door, great. If they drive people away, screaming in terror, vowing never to set foot in our churches ever again, we still must receive them.
If people want to return to churches where the history of the church is not denigrated, where the rhythm of the church year is repeated annually, where the liturgy is the same week after week, where sermons are preached in pulpits, where pastors dress like pastors and not baristas, great. God’s Word and Sacraments will be here for them. But if another study 10 years from now reveals a trend back toward pop-evangelicalism, God’s Word and Sacraments, wrapped in the holy liturgy, will still be here, doing what they always do: delivering forgiveness, life, and salvation.