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Three Questions about Church for the NYT

Three questions come to my mind as I read this NYT report on alternate ways to do church.

One: The title of the piece is “Building Congregations Around Art Galleries and Cafes as Spirituality Wanes.” Question: Is “spirituality” waning?

Two: Here’s another quote:

“It’s unsettling for a movement that’s lasted 2,000 years to now find that, ‘Oh, some of the things we always assumed would connect with the community aren’t connecting with everyone in the community in the way they used to,’” said Warren Bird, the director of research for the Leadership Network, a firm that tracks church trends.

Question: Does Warren Bird think that churches have been doing things the same way for the past 2,000 years?

Three: And one more quote:

“Every generation wants their own thing,” said Houston Clark, whose company designs spaces and audiovisual systems for churches nationwide. “Kids in their late 20s to midteens now, they really crave intimacy and authenticity. They want high-quality experiences, but don’t necessarily want them in huge voluminous buildings.”

Question: So is that why at National Community Church, “Sunday services are held in six locations, mostly movie theaters, where the smell of Saturday night’s popcorn hangs in the air as prerecorded sermons play on the big screen”? Because nothing says “intimacy and authenticity” like watching sermons on movie screens in darkened rooms that smell like popcorn?

This wasn’t a hit piece by the NYT at all; nothing sneering or dismissive about it. It just made me wonder about a few things.

about the author

Alan Jacobs is a Distinguished Professor of the Humanities in the Honors Program at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and the author most recently of The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography.

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