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28 Responses

  1. EricL says:

    Articles on OC concerns about megachurches and the other one about weak online attendance gets me thinking… Not sure how to put this all in words yet, but how secure are those megachurches whose “business model” is giant event-style meetings? Even when we are allowed back in, if the crowds are thinned by government regs (like 25% of capacity), then it won’t be the same experience. If your only hold on the people is through such huge events, then your hold is slipping. If you turn into just another online show, then you will be competing not with the hand-full of other large churches in the city, but with church shows from around the world.

    My home church has been much healthier in this. We went to online live, but we have designated “greeters” in the chat rooms for each service to encourage folks to chat with each other and folks volunteering to pray with those in need (online or by phone). We still feed the needy 2X a week, so many can still volunteer there. Our home groups all turned into online video conferences, yet they’ve also doubled in count- to 30+ groups. In other words, we are finding ways to be the church outside of just our big gatherings.

    I think church will now be healthier if it isn’t just about that Sunday live concert-like event as some of the megachurches in our area do. I took a look at the website of a megachurch I attended many years ago and it looks like they only have 2 online small groups- how sad is that? How are the thousands being nourished and cared for? If this coronavirus lingers on for a year or two, the big-event approach to ministry will likely fail for many. I just hope enough churches innovate to minister in new (and old) ways that don’t depend on large gatherings.

  2. Em says:

    My first church experience after accepting God’s redemption was a mega church, 5000+ members, but no Showtime performances… You really do get lost in the crowd … No accountability unless you didn’t meet your tithe. If that happened a small committee would show up at your door to see “if everything was alright.”. 😏

  3. Mike E. says:

    Interesting views on online church…I think the positive view toward online services is probably a minority view in the church overall..Certainly many pastors seem to feel threatened by such a move. I’m not exactly sure why. But they are. Is it because revenues are being affected? I can’t imagine why it would be hard to give to your church online, with the technology that exists..except maybe among the elderly? But even with them, many elderly people today pay their bills online. A pastor I listened to yesterday spoke about the “pandemic church” as if it were the direct work of Satan. I guess I’m not quite understanding the insecurity and the “threat” these pastors are feeling. I’m reading a book by a well-experienced a chapter entitled “why church?” he has a section where he talks about his questions about what he calls: “TV church.” It should be noted that this pastor is part of the older generation. He asks:

     Does the TV preacher ever visit this family at their home in person?
     When there’s an illness in the family, does he stop by the hospital and pray for
     Later on, will he conduct classes and confirm their children?
     Will he participate in their kids’ high school Baccalaureate service?
     Will he attend graduation, birthday, retirement and anniversary parties at
    their home?
     Will he preside at weddings for them after conducting premarital counseling?
     Does the TV preacher ever call them on the phone just to see how they’re
    doing? Could they easily call him at his office or his home?
     If there’s a death in the family will the TV preacher conduct the funeral?
     How does this family receive Holy Communion? Will one of the deacons or
    elders of any of the TV ministries bring the Bread and Cup to them?
     Will the TV preacher invite them over to his office for coffee?
     Does the TV preacher ever stop by where they work to see them?
     Can they list their TV preacher as a referral for a character reference?
     When they don’t understand or agree with something they hear in a TV
    sermon, are they able to discuss this with the preacher?
     When they are facing a tough decision or transition in their lives, does the TV
    preacher meet with them and offer pastoral advice?
     Do they enjoy fellowship activities with the people of the TV preacher’s
     Can they use the Church Library of the TV preacher’s church to borrow
    devotional books and Bible study materials?
     If they’re having problems with housing, healthcare, employment, transportation, etc., will the TV preacher get involved, offer assistance, and give some good local referrals?
     What kind of religious education are their children getting, since they don’t go to Sunday School or Vacation Bible School?
     When they move into a new home, will the TV preacher come over and do a house blessing?
     Will the TV preacher give them opportunities to serve the Lord on a church board or teach a class or sing in his choir?
     If the TV preacher happened to be visiting their town and passed them on the sidewalk, would he greet them by name?
     Do they really worship, or merely “watch” church?

    He concludes the section with this statement. “Perhaps the reason TV church is “enough” for some people is because it offers a no-commitment, “leave-me-alone” religion. TV and pod-cast preacher are far enough away to pose no threat to people, (not sure why he thinks a pastor should pose a “threat” to people) who may even prefer them “at a distance”. They don’t have to be concerned that the TV preacher might confront them with something they’d rather not hear…because they can easily grab their remote and turn him off or change the channel.”
    I found myself actually answering an emphatic “yes” to almost all of his questions…I mean, all of the things mentioned by him can be facilitated with an online presence..even the “personal touch” he’s so concerned with can be facilitated…hospital and home visits can be arranged online just as easily as with a phone call. What’s the difference between a phone call and the online chat? Voice, I guess…is the only thing I can think of. But even there, a video exchange is the exact same thing as a phone call. I think this is a “brave new world” confronting the Church. Will we adapt, or will we hang on with white knuckled determination to the old wineskins? Points to ponder.

  4. Both articles about Norma Mcorvey are sad, and each reinforce the opposite side. I once commented on Quora about what my [adoptive] mother told me about her experiences working as an RN in an abortion clinic and was called a liar. My mom also had an abortion before she adopted me. It’s both a black and white issue while also being not, and the politics complicate it so much.

  5. JoelG says:

    I haven’t watched a church service since March. It was Chaplain Mikes ELCA Lutheran service over at IM. The Lutheran liturgy is fantastic. I must admit I haven’t missed the Evangelical liturgy. The hyperventilating worship pastor leading the show. The loud music during communion. The forced meet and greet, etc. I’ve enjoyed not feeling guilty every Sunday morning for not going to the loud gathering. I’ve enjoyed watching squirrels in my back yard and consider it as much church as anything else these days. Should I feel guilty for this? Maybe.

  6. Dan from Georgia says:

    Hi JoelG,

    You are not alone. Wife and I attend an Evangelical church here in GA, and I don’t miss the SAME THINGS you mention…loud music during communion, forced meet-and-greet, etc. We will go back once we feel more safe, but for now I don’t miss it.

  7. JoelG says:

    Thank you Dan. I think some of the Evangelical churches think we’re all extroverts. We just want to worship in peace, partake of His Body and Blood and hear some Good News. It’s pretty simple. 😊

  8. CM says:

    Hello Dan from GA,

    Good to see you. I don’t miss the Evangelical liturgy one bit. If anything, I am finding it dislike it more and more each day. I am also finding out that bloggers who I once respected and thought were good authorities I now have nothing but disappointment and derision (to be honest). I guess the truth and fact about some things like church abuse matter but scientific things don’t. I thought all Truth matters to God.

  9. Michael says:

    Mike E,

    I’m an old guy now, but my views on this haven’t changed.
    There can be no real church without the physical presence of a priest/pastor among the people acting as an extension of the Incarnation.
    I share all the same concerns as the author you cited…the gift of presence is what a pastor/priest brings from Christ to the people.
    In this crisis changes have been necessary…but I hope they are temporary.

  10. CM says:


    I agree wholeheartedly with your reply to Mike E.

  11. Dan from Georgia says:

    Hey JoelG and CM!

    Thanks for your replies. I have soured over time re: evangelical culture. There are other reasons that are more significant and telling that I won’t get into. But suffice it to say that I no longer desire to go to evangelical churches. Wife and I will still probably attend this church nearby, but I may have to just put up with the few distractions, unless my wife tires of it too!

    Over time also (from reading this and other blogs, etc), I am realizing more and more that there are real believers in faith traditions other than evangelical or baptist.

    Maybe in my 20s I would have liked communion sounding like a Coldplay or Rolling Stones concert, but now I don’t.

    Other faith traditions are becoming more attractive.

  12. Em says:

    A church without an ordained pastor? FWIW it seems to me we can all be caretakers of each other in the Body… But we need teachers, men who know the Bible, honest, disciplined God respecting men ( women, too? Dunno – possibly) and there are not enough of these qualified teachers to go around. Our souls do need to be fed
    Evangelists and preachers have a role, yes. We do need to hear the Gospel, we do need to be “upbraided” sometimes…. Sometimes we do need a John the Baptist, a Joel
    The list posted above by Mike E, IMV, should not fall on the shoulders of just one man
    Dunno, thoug, do i? 😇

  13. CM says:

    Dan from GA,

    How about this in church? An interesting version of a classic hymn:

  14. bob1 says:

    Other faith traditions are becoming more attractive.


    I think where you’re at is an excellent place to be!

    I also think you’ll find a lot of us have explored other traditions and in many cases have matriculated elsewhere.

    I know this blog has been a big encouragement to me. Glad you’re hear to be involved in the dialogue!

  15. Corby says:

    Just an observation, no research to back it up, but this is a pattern I see (very general) about all of the online church stuff. Interestingly, I think it directly connects to the post about the musician no longer believing in God.

    Pre-Jesus movement, which is also pre-commuter transportation and pre-mass/global communication, I think we could classify churches as “community” churches. The people who came to a church and conversely the church’s involvement in the lives of its members were based around a geographic community. A neighborhood in a large city, down to maybe the only church in the small town, people lived and shopped in community, not unlike the neighborhood grocers and schools. People also worked where they lived.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Jesus Movement and subsequent mega-church movement came at a time when more and more people had cars, people could live in suburbs and work in town, superstores became a thing. Lives we no longer geographically centric, they were service-centric. People commuted to work, they commuted to the superstore and the mall, and they now had the ability to shop for a church if they didn’t like the one in their neighborhood. My own relationship with Jesus began in the mid-80s at a place called Crossroads “Community” Church and while there was a level of community inside the family of the church, it was really Crossroads Commuter Church (that’s not a dig on the church at that time, I have many fond memories, just a practical observation). People drove 30-45 minutes regularly to come to church for Wednesday night service and Sunday morning and evening services, just like they would drive that distance to go to work every day. In fact, I would say that most of the churches of note in our county at the time through to today are commuter churches. Most do not serve a geographic community and you can easily drive by five other churches to get to the one you want to go to, at least until you get tired of it and want to go somewhere else ( guilty).

    As of about 2015, we are seeing another shift. The first was community to commuter. You might call this one commuter to computer. Churches got good at live streaming and even hosting church online with a chat room and a pastor you could interact with. (I remember setting up a live video and audio RealMedia stream in about 1997. Glorious 320×240 live video resolution!) I remember sitting in staff meetings in 2015 where the leadership would count online viewers as butts in the seats and were proud of the fact that there were more people watching online on a given Sunday than actually present on campus as if it were some great ministry and marketing accomplishment. All I saw were even more people not being discipled just like the ones on campus. But I digress.

    Now, it’s totally easy and normal to “go to church” online. Why? Because all you are doing is changing the venue. You go in person to church for the show where you sit and watch. Why not do the same from home? There is no need and indeed no channel for real relationships and discipleship on campus (whole other conversation), so why drive there at all? Just watch from home in your jammies and slippies while you check Facebook at the same time? Now you can go to church anywhere in the world.

    AND, there is no real need for the power of God to be present anymore, which to me connects, in part, to people like the musician and other church celebrities bailing on God and the church. We’ve substituted stagecraft for the Spirit. I’m not talking about the bologna from Bethel or the lunacy of Lakeland, I’m talking about the simple yet powerful experience of the Spirit convicting a sinner of sin, righteousness, and judgment which leads to repentance and restoration.

    When you live long enough behind the curtain of modern ministry (again, this might not be your church, but it is many, many of the churches I know first hand), keeping that up leads a person to either quit (like the above-mentioned celebrities), or become self-deluded into thinking that this is actually what God has in mind for his Body on earth (which I don’t think it is at all), or get fired trying to change things from the inside like I was, or (insert your experience here).

    All of this is enough to make a person become an agnostic at best. I know I’ve come close a few times. Is the answer to get back to geographic community-based churches? I don’t know. The Bible was written in a time when local community was the only option so what it says on some of these things is rooted in that paradigm. People living, serving, and loving within a local community would certainly solve a lot of problems in our world, but it isn’t practical in a lot of cases. I live 30 miles from where I work and where we have been going to church. We had to move for health reasons for my wife, and work and church options don’t exist where we live now.

    The point of all of this is that I think we are in another transitional period and it will be interesting to see what happens. Will it be the demise of the megachurch which somehow leads people back to local community churches? It might already be happening in some places. I know that is the case for the mostly young families in our church who got burned out by entertainment-driven churches. As always, time will tell.

  16. Dan from Geogia says:


    That is an interesting take on that hymn!

    CM, JoelG, and bob1,

    Thanks for the dialogue! It’s good to know that I am not alone and not committing apostasy (half tongue-in-cheek!). From reading here for a number of years, it is good to hear stories of and from those of different traditions that, you can tell, know the Lord. This has been a paradigm-shifting blog for me.

  17. Michael says:

    Corby…lot of truth in your observations…

  18. CM says:

    Dan from GA,

    Something I think we all need to remember is that liturgy refers to form and structure. Every denomination has it (even though it may not be called that), whether it is a Baptist, Calvary Chapel, non-denomination, Anglica, Lutheran, etc. It is a way of organizing the specific Lord’s Day meeting of the local body of Believers. So unless the particular church has the entire service laid out as open-mike night at The Improv, it will have a liturgy (and for many, it is laid out in the Sunday morning church bulletin they hand you when you walk in.

    Every wonder why Baptist churches have their church announcements in the same part of the service when they do? Ever wonder why Pentecostal churches have their time of quietness to let the Holy Spirit move in the same part of the service when they do? Same reason. It is a liturgy.

  19. Dan from Georgia says:

    CM, that makes sense…never thought of it that way. I would associate the word liturgy with mainline denominations only.

  20. JoelG says:

    Very interesting observations Corby. Perhaps this will be a time of transition back to the smaller neighborhood church down the street.

    DFG is one of the kindest people I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with on the internet. I’m glad you’re here too, Dan.

  21. Em says:

    A time of transition? It is indeed that….
    From where i sit (right now on a sofa in a river canyon in the mountains), my ideal would be good, sound teachers of the Faith on TV – one channel dedicated to just that… No door knocking, good news, Jesus isn’t really God teachers….
    AND neighborhood churches with no parking lots. 😇
    Just sayin….

  22. CM says:

    Dan from GA,

    Also, there is nothing wrong with a liturgy or structure in a meeting of the local assembly of believers. There was a liturgy used by Israel in the OT for their Sabbath meetings, Holy Days, etc.

    Paul states in 1 Corinthians 14:40, “But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” (NASB). So it stands to reason that there is some of structure and form.

    Whether it is called by said church a liturgy, order of service, worship outline, etc. is really immaterial.

  23. Dan from Georgia says:

    JoelG, thanks for the kind words. Appreciated and good to have you here too! My take is that there is too much hostility online and I get caught up in it at times. That is what the edit and delete comment buttons are for on some websites!

    CM, that is so true. Even the evangelical churches have their liturgy or order of service. Yeah, having an open mic for a service would be very weird. I have seen open mic nights at revival gatherings, but maybe that is it’s place.

  24. CM says:

    Corby and Michael,

    This talk of online church and liturgy has me thinking….

    For online church in lieu of everyone giving the response to the pastor in a more “High Church Liturgy”, will there be a pop-up on your streaming service with the response with a click or like button? A massive Zoom or Microsoft Team meeting with everyone reading the Nicene Creed out loud?

    I am not being trite or sacrilegious here (as actually prefer this stuff in a church) but merely posing the question.

  25. JoelG says:

    I would love to be able to edit and / or delete many of my comments in the past. Eeesh…

    Em, a TV station with sound, Christ-centered teaching would be refreshing. You really have to be able to discern what you’re hearing these days.

    CM, one of the things I love about “liturgical” churches is that the emphasis is on the words and prayers that direct our attention to God rather than the ability of the Pastor to preach a sermon. I don’t want to dismiss the Evangelical liturgy. I’ve heard many moving sermons. It’s just something I prefer the older I get.

  26. CM says:


    That is the reason I prefer them too. A solid expository sermon (not necessarily emotionally “moving”) combined with more of the “high-church” liturgy is a really good combination IMO.

  27. JoelG says:

    Christ’s grace and mercy for us conveyed through whatever means “moves” me. I cry in church. I’m weird. 😉

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