Recently Vineland area pastors received an email from one of their number inviting them to click on a web site of a U.S. church consultant to read about “Nine rapid changes in worship services.” A major U.S. university had done a survey of worship patterns in a variety of church traditions since 2000, and was noting significant changes within the past decade. Here they are.
- Choirs are disappearing. From 1998 to 2007, the percentage of churches with choirs decreased from 54% to 44%. If that pace holds to this year, the percentage of churches with choirs is only 37%.
- Dress is more casual. In many churches, a man wearing a tie in a worship service is now among the few rather than the majority. While the degree of casual dress is contextual, the trend is crossing all geographic and demographic lines.
- Screens are pervasive. Most churches today have screens. And if they have hymnals, the hymnals are largely ignored and the congregants follow along on the screens.
- Preaching is longer.
- “Multi” is normative. Most congregants twenty years ago attended a Sunday morning worship service where no other Sunday morning alternatives were available. Today, most congregants attend a service that is part of numerous alternatives: multi-services; multi-campuses; multi-sites; and multi-venues.
- Attendees are more diverse. There has been a decrease in the number of all-white congregations.
- Conflict is not increasing. In spite of “worship wars,” overall church conflict has not increased over a 20-year period.
- More worship attendees are attending larger churches. Churches with an attendance of 400 and up now account for 90% of all worship attendees. Inversely, those churches with an attendance of under 400 only account for 10% of worship attendees.
- Sunday evening services are disappearing.
While the study focused on American churches, many of these trends are also visible across Canadian congregations.
How does worship at The First Mennonite Church compare with these trends?