Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why Your Church is Not the Exception to the Rule…or…Tell Your Pastor to Call a Realtor

Sometimes, I write posts that I think are fantastic and a surefire way to start a meaningful dialog. But, they rarely do. Other times, I fire something off that I think no one will care about. Those are the ones that garner the most feedback.

And those are the ones that make my mother-in-law truly angry with me (which may have been a first).

That's right – if you're looking for more of my thoughts about pipe organs, you've come to the right place.

I've heard from a few people (via comments and emails) that my take on why churches with pipe organs are in trouble of long-term relativity and sustainability was wrong. Dead wrong. They tell me that:
I've attended several churches with decent sized groups of young adults who WANT to sing traditional hymns, hear an actual sermon by a seminary-educated minister, and even like a pipe organ now and then.
And they say:
Under what authority are you telling people how to worship? Or what worship is better? Some people (even some under 30) prefer to worship with a pipe organ. Perhaps not in the social circles with which you choose to associate, but they are out there. There are churches thriving with the use of pipe organ. This article is a perfect example of what has made the "worship wars" as hostile as they have become. It is when people like yourself tell others how to worship. You cannot make a judgment for all congregations, or for all people under 30, or which worship is better.
And don’t forget:
Oh my, I thought this kind of thinking had died with the 20th century. I haven't read a "church with a pipe organ is going to be a condo" article in about eight years. Why is it that the people who like organ music always are the one who have to take the heat for being stuck in the past. The fact that a church has a building or has a pipe organ has nothing to do with how forward looking that congregation might be. In fact you will find some of the most forward looking and interesting Baptist congregations are large old inner city churches with both buildings and pipe organs. We just use them creatively. The pipe organ says nothing about your theological ideas. Some of the most exciting young Christians that I know are organ students and are very committed to using the organ in the church in many innovative ways.
Thanks for sharing. However, my last post wasn't really about how awesome (or not) pipe organs are/were.

Check it out: a church in Seattle sold its building and parking lot for $3.4 million. That's some serious outreach and ministry that could be done with that kind of cash. And all it had to do was give up its old building and (perhaps) a pipe organ.

So my question is: could your church be a better church if it sold its pipe organ? Could you reach more people in more ways? If you sacrificed the way you've always done church, would it allow you to do church in a whole new way?

But the point is not the pipe organ, people! It's the choir robes, the super-hip technology upgrade, the travel budget, the repaving of the parking lot, the Minwax for the pews, the sappy watercolor pictures of white Jesus, and everything else that you’ve "invested in" which commits your congregation to a style of ministry that’s simply mediocre.

So here's the deal: no comments allowed on this post. Feel free to email me your thoughts. Better yet – write a post on your own blog about what your church would do if it had $3.4 million to meet the needs of your local community. I'll personally write a check for $3.4 million to the best idea.

Just kidding.

But I will give anyone who writes their own blog post a free copy of my book, which may have some ideas that you can use in your church to make a difference. Or you can burn it if you think everything I say is pure crap. Your call.