Friday, January 14, 2011

Dumbing Down the Church? (Church? what is this thing called Church?)

A friend of mine linked to Don Miller's blog, which asks about the evangelical church getting dumber.  I forwarded it to a pastor friend with whom I've been having this discussion for awhile.  Here are some of my questions:
  • What is the purpose of that which we know as "church service" (it happens on Sunday mornings)?  Is it worship?  Converting the unsaved?  Other?
  • What is the difference between "worship" and "church service"?
  • What is the difference between "church service" and "Church"?  Can you be a part of "Church" without attending "church service"?
  • Is listening to a sermon worship?  If not, what is the purpose of listening to a sermon?
  • Are Christians whose IQ is above the 100 mark (roughly half of the population if we believe the lore) obligated to wash away that extra bit of brain power along with their sinful nature?
  • Did Jesus use parables so that 9 year olds could understand him?
  • Is the primary focus and purpose of every believer to save the unsaved?
My friend wrote:
But then God reminded me that real worship has never been a feeding trough for saints, it's a sacrifice we offer him.  It's what I bring to God, not what I get from him."

Is attending church "real worship"?  Is it the "sacrifice we bring God"?  Is giving up the hope for  non-dumbed-down sermons our "sacrifice"? If attending church is not "real worship" then what is?

I'm interested to hear your thoughts.  Those of you who don't think much about church, as you were.  Back to books shortly...


  1. Grace, I think Walter Ong/Steven Johnson collectively offer an answer to the 9-year old/parable question: it likely points to how increasingly smarter/media savvy human beings have become over the centuries, right?

  2. I don't know Steven Johnson (obviously I should, though).

    Jesus' use of everyday objects in parables did employ the technology his audience would have been familiar with, but his teaching was anything but dumbed down. People today still argue about his meaning. So I don't know that I buy that just because he used stories/simple sentence structure that his teaching was "dumbed-down."

    On the one hand, we are technologically much more sophisticated in the electrate age. On the other, we do keep hearing that kids are dumber now, that they're not as well-prepared for college, etc. I wonder if any of this has to do with attention span. Twitter, texting, etc. have all taken the length of typical communications way down. Maybe as a society we are losing the ability to sustain thinking (exemplified by me taking a break from doing homework to write this comment).

  3. >If not, what is the purpose of listening to a sermon?

    For believers listening to a man appointed by God deepens our knowledge of the scripture he presents.

    It is scriptural that we "not forsake the assembling of yourselves together". We are commanded to meet together and share in prayers and music. It uplifts us and draws us closer to the One who died for us.

  4. Barb, I guess my whole post was prompted by the the fact that there seems to be a movement away from presenting scripture to deepen our knowledge, toward "telling a story to 9 year- olds" as Don Miller puts it. If the sermons I hear really did deepen my knowledge, then I wouldn't be asking these questions.