There are are so many churches in America today “doing” church is so many different ways. Some churches do “traditional” church only and some churches have more than 9 different styles of worship in a weekend. Before I get into offering an insight into my thoughts on the pros and cons of “niche” worship services I want to say a few things. First, I believe that the most important about your worship service should be the praise, worship, thanksgiving, expressions of joy, and adoration of God in his Trinitarian person-hood. We need to find more of a balance in our worship of the persons of the Trinity and we need to create more art centered around the Trinity.
Second, I believe that only God is capable of saving a person. We should present a biblical and accurate picture of God in our worship and make our case for the reason why we worship our God. In doing this we will provide an apologetic for who God is, what He has done, and why we have placed our faith in him.
Third, I want to displace using the term “market audience” and instead use the term people group. There are a myriad of people groups in America and large number of people groups within 1-2 miles of your church. God recognizes this fact by stating, “every tribe, every tongue, and every nation.” God recognizes these differences in humanity and so should we. By creating worship services or churches around these people groups we are not simply meeting the felt-needs of people we are bridging a communication gap. How many people in your church carry their Hebrew or Greek version to church with them? How many churches continue to use the harp and lyre? Do not be afraid of change, because it has already happens many times over.
Fourth, how large is a healthy successful church? The answer to this question may frame your measure of the success of a niche worship service. Would you be happy if 100 people went to the service? How much new growth makes it “worth your while?” What if you really don’t reach a single new person in the first year, but you notice that your people are maturing as authentic disciples of Christ and experiencing God like they weren’t before? Was it worth it?
Fifth, there is nothing wrong with “traditional” worship services. traditional worship services are reaching people and have been doing it for a long time. I don’t think that you have to get rid of your traditional service, but I don’t think you should expect to reach new people or younger generations with it either. The fact that they don’t like traditional worship is not proof that there is something fundamentally wrong with them. Every person comes to the foot of the cross messed up. These people dress differently, speak differently, prefer different kinds of sandwich meat, and will come closer to the heart of God in different ways.
- More services mean more opportunities for your members to serve. You may have a great team on the stage, but there is probably two or three more teams in your congregation waiting for an opportunity. Your job as a minister is to equip the saints for the work of the church and not to fill your roles with paid staff who may care less about your church than they do about their check. Take that with a grain of salt, because I think that a workman is worthy of his wages and not all situations are the same.
- A niche service reaches a new people group with the same message. If you notice that a particular people group is missing from your church, and you are interested in reaching, then consider doing whatever it takes.
- Niche services can help bridge generational gaps. What??? I believe that pastors who believe that modern worship is only for their college students need to get a clue. I don’t care how old your pastor is, he grew up during the Rock and Roll era. Read A Social History of Rock and Roll by Paul Friedlander to get a better picture. In short, modern worship reaches people in their 50s and 60s naturally. Go Google how old Eric Clapton is and you will get the picture.
- Niche services can help your church stem the outward flow of younger generations away from your church. If you graduated 20 seniors from high school last year and hope to see them again consider creating a service that will connect with them before they leave for college and find something that better communicates the Gospel to them. Recent Lifeway research and Ed Stetzer speak to this point in more depth than I can or want to here.
- It is possible for your church to do too many things. Your church cannot be a “jack-of-all-churches.” Focus on reaching the people God has called you to and then ask how can you better equip and disciple them. I think many churches are adding modern worship services, but are still not discipling people well. You have a responsibility to the people you already have. If you are not making good disciples then please do not gather more people to your church and handicap them, tell them about the church down the road. Ouch.
- You may not have the technology or space in place to pull it off. If you are going to provide a niche service then do it well. Doing a modern worship service is not just about the music. You need to consider the space, the lighting, the sound, the technology…all the things that go into creating what I call the “mise-en-worship” to borrow and morph a film term.
- Your church culture may not be right for it. There are churches that need to change or they will die, but death is part of the cycle of life and sometimes the death of one thing helps make room for a new birth. Somethings need to die with grace and dignity and not in a battle for position, politics, or control. I wonder if God would rather see an old church die or an old church split? What do you think.
I hope that I have helped approach the niche question and provide foder for future discussions. I personnally think that if the church is so concerned with the size and care of the Baby-Boomer generation then they should start planting churches aimed at retirement communities and people above the age of 50. I do not see a lot of that, but I am 1/3 joking too. Why must I alway be 1/2 joking?
What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of niches worship services?