Saturday, December 15, 2012

Makes my heart glad...

A reader from Wisconsin sent me a link to a newspaper article about a Lutheran congregation that ditched all the trappings of church and took on the aura of a coffeehouse... and FAILED.  Makes the heart glad to see that the people knew that just as oil and water do not mix, artificial attempts at casual worship and faith do not mix.  Sacred space is not an option when it comes to worship within the Lutheran tradition.  They go together.  With the sacred space, marked by the furniture of altar, pulpit, font, and crucifix, we also worship within the sphere of sacred time.  The rhythm of Sundays and the slow, deliberate marking of time in the Church Year are intrinsic to the Divine Service.

A Waunakee church that pushed the concept of “casual worship” to new levels didn’t draw enough interest and has closed.

St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 5757 Emerald Grove Lane, sought to attract people put off by the rituals and trappings of traditional worship services. Parishioners ripped out the church’s pews, pulpit and communion rail four years ago and installed coffeehouse tables, easy chairs and a cappuccino machine.

Sunday attendance peaked at around 50 a couple of years ago and had been dropping. Services have ceased and the church building is for sale.

The Middleton location continued to hold traditional worship services, while the Waunakee site experimented with a more laid-back structure. Hunter served both sites. His early morning sermon in Middleton was videotaped, then shown on large screens later in the morning at Waunakee.

“I still think it’s a great idea, but this apparently was not the time or the place,” said the Rev. Randy Hunter, pastor of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Middleton.


Unknown said...

Wait! Contemporary worship isn't working? I thought that was the panacea for all the Lutheran Church's problems. One down, too many to go.

William Tighe said...

It was a WELS church, I understand.

Anonymous said...

When people can become members without ever opening the Small Catechism, what did the Pastor and the elders expect?

Maybe the "casual worship" Lutheran pewsitters realized that the coffee, the stage lights, and the praise bands were far superior at the non-denominational church down the street.

Hmmmm......the congregation experiences declining attendance in spite of employing church growth methods.

Where does the Lutheran church go from here?