As church sizes shrink, many churches have made an effort to modernize their services in hopes of attracting the younger generation. Organs have been replaced with guitars, stained glass windows and dark pews replaced with all that is light and bright, prayer books and hymnals are being taken over by screens and projects. I think there is most certainly an argument for taking measures to ensure religious communities remain relevant; to show how the divine, ritual, and spiritual community still have a place in the world.
However, in doing so, it is imperative that the church does not simply take on characteristics of the outside world to better fit within it. Any changes should be motivated by divine inspiration, not pressure from the secular world. People come to church because they are looking for something the outside world doesn’t offer. Religious communities must be different from the culture that surrounds them, though not in a way that it ignores the outside world. Religious communities need to maintain some sense of separation (divine v. mundane) while emphasizing that the divine does move and act in the ‘mundane’ world.
The remaining question lies in the implementation, the rubber to the road, how religious communities achieve this without cheapening their respective faith or becoming stagnant. I don’t think there is one overarching method that will work. The ‘how’ will vary from place to place, but the intention should remain the same, “[To] be simultaneously timely and timeless, to engage tradition without being traditional (Trumble in Hendrickson, 152).
Hendrickson, Robert. 2013. Yearning: Authentic transformation, young adults, and the church. US: Morehouse Publishing.