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church-mart revisited

In yesterday’s message, I talked about how churches in the modern area began sterilizing their environments in an effort to create a non-threatening atmosphere for non-believers. This was in response to the Baby Boomer generation leaving church en masse and then beginning to return in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Innovative church leaders began eliminating church-speak, that highly specialized form of church language only known to insiders. They began writing music that was actually enjoyable and somewhat resembled what a person could hear on the radio. Pastors began wearing normal clothes. Church services became programmed and produced.

The result was that a few of the churches began attracting and keeping large numbers of Boomers. New models for church planting were created.

One of the casualties, however, was that many of these worship environments didn’t convey much of a sense of worship. They were designed to look like theaters and religious symbols and icons were hidden away. Rather than creating sacred space, they created sterile spaces.

In some ways, these churches inadvertently become Christian versions of Wal-Mart. Big box stores/churches designed for convenience and consumerism.

This might have worked well for the modern, Boomer generation but it fails miserably with the postmodern generation. The postmodern generation values experience and wants to feel like they have entered a sacred space when they come to worship. Being a visual generation, they are drawn to visual expressions of faith and spirituality. Architecture, environment, and atmosphere have become important again.