The Mistake That Will Not Die

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Where Multiple Styles of Worship Work

35 years ago, Carl Dudley, in is "Making the Small Church Effective," wrote of the real differences in churches. It had nothing to do with size; it had everything to do with whether a church was a "single cell" church (i.e., everyone was of the same general race, language, and culture) or a "multiple cell" church.
The latter churches, reaching out to different generations, different cultures, different languages, etc. worked best if they could have multiple styles of worship and ministry, one for each major grouping within its membership. Up into the 1960's this used to be done through multiple adult Sunday School classes, where each one became a sub-congregation and did their own worship style. (Did there ever exist a local UMC that didn't have a "Homebuilders" adult Sunday School class where none of its members had built a home in 50 years?)
Single cell churches cannot afford to do Multiple forms of worship. But, that doesn't mean they have to try to copy the styles of large churches in our denomination or of non-denominational megachurches. We need to give them permission to have a worship style that works for them. If they function well (and my metric on that is having at least 80% of their membership in church on most Sundays), they are vital. Case closed.

Tom Griffith more than 4 years ago

Statistics don't lie (but statisticians may)

Towers Watson reported a connection between worship and vitality, but never ever said there was a causal connection. So even for the 350+ member churches, we don't know if varied worship begats vitality, or do vital churches then like to offer varied worship.

Jim Allen more than 4 years ago

Notable Quotes


“The period of Lent is given us to focus on what can be changed by listening carefully to the word of God. The word of God brings the clarity about injustices, but also how we are given a new opportunity to change injustices to justice. God has given that we in the death of Jesus Christ have been liberated from our trespasses as he was raised for our justification.”

– The Rev. Olav Fyske Tveit, top executive of the World Council of Churches, in a March 20 sermon marking World Water Day.


The Rev. Junius B. Dotson, top executive of Discipleship Ministries, lays out his agency’s plans to help United Methodists reach people for Jesus. He addressed his agency’s board in Nashville, Tenn.“We have tried to reverse this decline by trying to offering technical fixes, tinkering with our worship services, collecting huge amounts of data, tinkering with metrics and then when the metrics didn’t fit the picture we wanted, we readjusted the metrics.  [United Methodists] can’t program our way back to vitality; there is no quick fix."

– The Rev. Junius B. Dotson, top executive of Discipleship Ministries, unveiling his goals for the agency to create 1 million new Christian disciples over the next four years, reported by Heather Hahn of United Methodist News Service.

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