Over on my friend David's blog, Big Circumstance, I managed to blurt out an idea that's been in my head for awhile but which never came out in quite the same way before.
The idea is this: lots of people who want to follow Jesus hate Sunday morning services. They find them energy-sapping and exhausting, like a terrible meeting at work that you really don't want to attend but have to. Only the thing about church is that you don't have to attend if you don't feel like it.
I think that this is actually the real challenge to the Church today and no amount of contemporary worship, no amount of praise songs and no amount of "modern worship" is going to "fix" the problem. Trying to make existing Sunday services attractive to people who would rather go to the dentist is just a no-win game and I think that's what we're trying to do. US congregations, not having yet declined in the way that the Church has done in the UK, seem even more stuck in the mode of thinking that if Sunday services just get more "modern" that more people will come.
Now, my only problem is that I don't really know what to "do" about this. I do think that small groups may be part of an "answer" and I suspect that this is part of where the Emerging Church movement is at. But I think that small groups are going to have to be places where individuals can share of themselves and be real and contribute to the growth of others in the group so that everyone can go out from the meeting into the world. They can't be just another meeting. And they can't be primarily led by one person week after week or they just turn into mini-Sunday services.
Any other thoughts?