DUELING QUOTES: (mega-church pastor) “Excellence attracts excellence” or (fast-growing youthful church pastor) “Authentic worship attracts those seeking authentic worship.”
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.,D., 12/6/15.
One of my former students, commenting on the “Authenticity verses Excellence” debate, interviewed a pastor of a large church in the area. Here is the student’s research and my response. The result is a leadership exercise on “excellence vs. authenticity” in ministry.
I just visited 1st Church. One of our larger denominational churches. I interviewed the pastor about his leadership. I came away with some great quotes and lessons. One of them was this: “Excellence attracts Excellence”. Quite honestly the idea that the organic church is more interested in authenticity than performance is new to me…I’m a boomer! I like it…I’m not sure that I get it!
I am glad you are conducting primary research with interviews. Good for you!
And, I know you are struggling with understanding the cultural differences of the younger generation. You see, learning about Postmodern Gen. X is really learning about another culture.
Because younger generations are a different culture, they might take your phrase and re-state it. From my interviews (Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations, Abingdon Press) I would say that might respond:
“Authentic worship attracts those seeking authentic worship.”
A Leadership Exercise:
My observation is that excellence attracts other churchgoers (what we call in Church Growth Movement “transfer growth”, see Thom Rainer’s excellent analysis of transfer growth). Usually, these are people looking for a church that offers better music, Children’s Ministry or Youth Ministry than their church offers.
I would say from my research (Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations, Abingdon Press) that authenticity attracts God-seekers.
A church should do both, but in my mind the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19ff) emphasizes the later (reaching God-seekers) over the former (transfer growth).
Now, what are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?
Either option if fine if it gets your leaders thinking about how to be missionaries to today’s cultures.