- (Photo: Facebook/Trinity Memorial Lutheran Church)
An Indiana church is taking on a new approach to reach the unchurched by cutting their worship services to only 30 minutes.
Trinity Memorial Lutheran Church in Merrillville, is launching the new service time period specifically for those who do not want to spend their Sundays sitting in a church pew, or partake in traditional ceremonial aspects of worship.
"We gather with a simple song, we have conversation with the Lord in prayer, and He speaks to us through the story of His word and in conversation between those who are gathered," Pastor Richard Boshoven said in a statement. "…We are dismissed with a blessing and retire for fellowship. If this formula proves successful, this fellowship may grow to include a sacramental component similar to the practice of the early church."
The idea for the service came out of the church's Bible study group, where those in attendance spend only a half-hour reading and discussing Biblical stories before spending the rest of the time fellowshipping with one another.
Boshoven says the time period is less of a burden for members and attendees. However, he notes that the half-hour remains fulfilling and meaningful.
"I wish more people took the time to connect to the word of God in this way, because together steel is sharpening steel," said Boshoven. "It should not come as a surprise that being in the scripture changes us."
Trinity Memorial is calling the new services "30 Minute Church," and will include guitar or recorded music while attendees sit in a semi-circle to better facilitate "the interaction of Christian conversation," says Boshoven.
Although the concept of shorter church services is not embraced by most Christian churches, some are beginning to follow the same steps in order to lure in the unchurched.
Last year, Jeff Tatarchuck, an Andrews University seminary student and guest writer on TED, a non-profit dedicated to "Ideas Worth Spreading," endured criticism after suggesting that pastors should simplify their sermons and limit them to a mere 18 minutes.
"Because the topic is short and simple enough for people to listen and digest the information, it makes it much easier for the audience to take action, which is to share the information with others," said Tatarchuck. "…Find your main point and stick to it. Then, make that idea as simple as possible. Before preaching your next sermon, try to explain your main idea to a child to see if they can grasp it and if they get it, preach it!"
However, some pastors disagree that their sermons should be cut that short since it is not sufficient time to delve in depth into their messages.
In a previous interview with The Christian Post, Wallace Henley, associate pastor of the 60,000 member Houston Second Baptist Church, said he disagreed.
"What happens when the Spirit of God manifests itself through the word and people are magnetically attracted to it? They want more after 18 minutes," said Henley. "It would be wrong to think that we could truly disciple a person in an 18-minute time span."
Although Trinity Memorial has 12 additional minutes added onto their services, the concept that Tatachurck suggests; to reach a generation of people who reject traditional religious services for a rather simple, basic gathering is the same.