We’ve been enjoying our Sundays at St. Mark’s. The richness and rigor of the liturgy is refreshing after years of seeker-sensitive services. It’s an eight-course meal, carefully measured out for us by church fathers – confession, forgiveness, praise, instruction, communion, giving, fellowship and benediction. It’s like a spiritual multivitamin in an easy-to-swallow, hour-long pill.
St. Mark’s has a lot going for it. The people are friendly, but not overly so. There is a healthy number of kids and young adults. The facility is well kept. The sermons are insightful. We love the depth of the hymns – and the people sing robustly (as opposed to most megachurches where very few people sing). It takes my wife back to the 100-member churches of her youth.
But last Sunday was different. Once a month, this little church does a contemporary service. Gina and I were surprised – unpleasantly so.
We arrived to find the pastor without his clerical robe. A projection screen had been lowered in front of the organ pipes. We sang praise choruses instead of hymns, led by a solo guitarist who had trouble keeping the beat. The congregation did not seem to know the songs, so they sang tentatively. On a positive note, the sermon was good as usual, and the pastor skillfully used PowerPoint slides to reinforce his message.
But on balance, the overall quality of the service was not up to par. Had this been our first Sunday at St. Mark’s it’s unlikely we would have returned.
So what went wrong? This little church was trying to be something it’s not.
St. Mark’s is a traditional church. And it’s very good at being a traditional church. But it’s a lousy contemporary church.
HT: Pr. David Juhl