The Sunday morning church experience was designed for a certain strata of society. And, for the most part, it works for that slice of the population.
That shrinking minority that regularly attends church bears a number of characteristics. In my last post I mentioned a set of descriptors that all begin with the letter A. The first was Audience-Oriented. These people are comfortable watching professional Christians perform on stage while they sit passively in the pew.
The next A descriptor is Anonymous. The silent church-going minority often seek anonymity. They like being part of a faceless crowd. They don’t necessarily want to be noticed—or known. They appreciate churches that keep the spotlight on the performers on stage, that allow the audience to sit quietly in the dark, so to speak.
Church consultants teach their clients to ensure that church visitors and members can slip in and out without being noticed, singled out, or compelled to speak to anyone. Anonymity is the holy grail.
But is the pursuit of anonymity the key to reversing the decline of the American church? Though most people seek occasional anonymity, when it comes to matters of the heart, they actually crave relationship. They want to be known. They want to contribute to the conversation. Telling their story is as important as listening to someone else’s.
But the current Sunday morning model, perfected by large churches, attracts those who want to be left alone–the silent minority. That leaves the relational majority turning to other forms of interaction with people: Facebook, town hall meetings, Starbucks conversations, blogs. They want to partcipate, tell their stories, and go someplace where someone knows their name.
Next time I’ll talk about the next A–Authority-Centered.