Packaged Church


I have served in numerous churches of many different shades. Different liturgies, and different preferred preaching styles. I remember preaching at one church where the sermon lasted a little more than an hour, at least I was told this. No one seemed bored or noticed the period in particular. If this was true then I must give credit to the Holy Spirit.

At another church, someone came up to me after the service and said: “I like your sermon. If you had cut out ten minutes it would have been better. Both of these churches were in the same denomination, so we don’t want to go pick on one denomination over another.

I remember in one church the early service was quiet. People came in reverently. They wanted just quiet music using old familiar hymns. The later service wanted upbeat praise music. People came in joyfully greeting one another. Some were still talking even after the worship service officially began. I thought I needed to give different sermons to two different churches. God told me to preach his Word to both of them.

Why are churches so concerned about the form, length, or style of worship? Personal preferences often dictate. But preferences can change as churches grow. There may another concern, however. People may be concerned about how they can attract the most members through their chosen type of worship service. One of the definitions of the word packaged is “deliberately created or shown in a way that is intended to be interesting or exciting to the public.”

I am reminded of a conversation that Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well. She had a question about the proper place to worship. Jesus said to her:

Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.   (John 4:21-23)

Was not Jesus was saying that a church needs to be preaching the truth of the Gospel and allowing the Holy Spirit to have free rein? I believe so.