One of the major complaints my friends and I had when I first became a Christian five years ago, was the fact that church service was no longer relevant.
To be more precise, a Seventh-day Adventist church service was too rigid, too traditional, too - dare I say it - boring. The hymns sung were too old-fashioned, the sermons preached were irrelevant and the fixed service that started with an invocation and ended with a benediction was not effective in attracting a younger audience whatsoever.
In the last five years, there has been a steady change in the way the church connected with its youth. The music became more upbeat, the sermons became more relevant and the creativity that emerged from this revolution blossomed and drew young people back. There was a real energy and it seemed that life was breathed back into something that was left for dead.
The irony of it all however, is that we have swung from one extreme to another and are once again stuck in a rut.
Church service for a younger audience nowadays has taken on a "lollipop" quality - sweet, feel good and with absolutely no substance. We have swapped an invocation, three hymns and a benediction, for a service with seven Hillsongs and a dance.
Is there really a difference?
Don't get me wrong. I love the energy and liveliness present in a praise and worship delivered with drums and electric guitars. I appreciate the fact that preachers tackle topics faced by a postmodern generation. And I certainly like the various creative expressions that should be part and parcel of worshipping God.
Unfortunately, in an attempt to make a stand against a rigid and irrelevant church, we have successfully created another. And sadly enough, we may have made the situation worse.
Praise and worship songs are almost always from the Hillsongs variety. Sermons preached more often than not touch on how much God loves his children, and that we can never stray far enough for Him to give up.
The messages are all true, but the messages are also all extremely emotional.
Oftentimes, I leave a church service feeling really good about myself and my relationship with God. I feel extremely glad that God still loves me despite the sinner that I am. I feel contrite, I feel on top of the world, I feel sorry, I feel forgiven, I feel close to God, I feel...I think you get the idea.
Whatever happened to actually getting to know God and His teachings even more?
Whatever happened to reading from the Bible and coming away with new insight and understanding?
Whatever happened to being fed and gaining some real substance instead of walking away with sugary sweet fluff?
I really appreciate the effort taken by the church to make it more relevant to young people. I completely admire the courage of these people to stand against traditional expectations and provide something more. Most of all, I respect their sacrifical heart.
But I'm also a searcher seeking. Seeking for a church that will feed and nourish me, and remain relevant at the same time.