56—church bulletin, music with offering, and forgoing the sermon
NOTE: I originally wrote a segment for each of the 61 points Frank Viola and George Barna make in their book, Pagan Christianity, about traditions in the institutional church not based on scripture. After writing it, I chose to not include this segment merely as I felt that in wouldn’t be an interesting radio commentary.
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute
Today we bring up three traditions not mentioned in scripture, but found in parts of traditional churches. First, the church bulletin. The surface reason for it is that, in 1884, A. B. Dick invented stencil duplication, which made it inexpensive for churches to print an informational brochure each week. Depending on the type of church, a bulletin might include order of worship, sermon outline, a list of events, groups, list of officials, or advertising. Implicit in this was that the group of people meeting was too large for everyone to know each other. If they could share their lives with each other, pre-printed notes would not be needed.
Whether one dates the origin of the modern Pentecostal branch of Christianity at 1831, 1906 or somewhere in between, the result is a more informal and emotive worship. The second tradition is playing music while collecting the offering. Doing both at the same time builds a feeling of something always going on. In some places it is called special music, and it has migrated across the spectrum of traditional churches.
The third tradition also comes from the Pentecostal branch, but has not migrated outside that flavor. This is the tradition of the pastor occasionally sensing “the Spirit moving” and forgoing the presenting of a sermon to allow more singing, testimony, or whatever. In some ways, this is the biggest change in order of worship since the beginning of orations since the 2nd century, but it should also raise the question, “Shouldn’t the Holy Spirit always be in charge?”