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Sunday, May 11, 2014

How worship services have changed since 2000

How worship services have changed since 2000
May 9, 2014 
By Gene Veith  
LifeWay CEO Thom S. Rainer cites the findings of the National Congregations Study from Duke University on how church services have changed over the last 10 years.  It isn’t just a matter of contemporary worship styles or the worship wars.  The study cites changes that also, I dare say, apply to liturgical and traditional services.  See the list of 9 changes after the jump.
1.     Choirs are disappearing. From 1998 to 2007, the percentage of churches with choirs decreased from 54% to 44%. If that pace holds to this year, the percentage of churches with choirs is only 37%.
2.     Dress is more casual. In many churches, a man wearing a tie in a worship service is now among the few rather than the majority. While the degree of casual dress is contextual, the trend is crossing all geographic and demographic lines.
3.     Screens are pervasive. Some of you remember the days when putting a projection screen in a worship center was considered a sacrilege. Now most churches have screens. And if they have hymnals, the hymnals are largely ignored and the congregants follow along on the screens.
4.     Preaching is longer. I will soon be in the process of gathering this data to make certain the objective research confirms the anecdotal information.
5.     “Multi” is normative. Most congregants twenty years ago attended a Sunday morning worship service where no other Sunday morning alternatives were available. Today, most congregants attend a service that is part of numerous alternatives: multi-services; multi-campuses; multi-sites; and multi-venues.
6.     Attendees are more diverse. The Duke study noted the trend of the decrease in the number of all-white congregations.
7.     Conflict is not increasing. In a recent post, I noted the decreasing frequency of worship wars. The Duke study noted that overall church conflict has not increased over a 20-year period.
8.     More worship attendees are attending larger churches. Churches with an attendance of 400 and up now account for 90% of all worship attendees. Inversely, those churches with an attendance of under 400 only account for 10% of worship attendees.
9.     Sunday evening services are disappearing. This issue has stirred quite a bit of discussion the past few years. I plan to expand upon it in my post this coming Saturday. Stay tuned.
Does this ring true where you worship?  Which changes are positive and which are negative?  Can anything be done about the negative ones?

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