If you haven’t been to church in a while, today’s modern churches might surprise you. Here are 10 things that’ll change what you though you knew about church!
Churches have been around for centuries. In fact, the oldest church dates back to approximately 233 AD. This is the Dura-Europos Church in Syria.
However, before it was a church the building was actually a private home. And this demonstrates the way that churches all around the world adapt and change with time.
The same is true of modern-day churches. If you haven’t been to a church in a while, it might surprise you how much they have transformed!
Read on to find out the ten ways modern churches are different from churches of the past.
1. The Congregation Is Smaller
Ten years ago any church service would have been full of people, especially a Sunday service. Now the crowds are smaller.
This means that services are more intimate. You’re more likely to know everyone who goes to your church regularly.
It also means that the pastors can cater the services to the congregation. So a modernized church service is more personal and feels less preachy.
2. The Reason People Attend
The reasons that people go to church has also changed. And this is one of the reasons why the congregations are smaller.
Church used to be a place that people felt they had to attend. Everyone from the local community would go up to three times a week. In some places in America, being absent from church would cause a scandal.
Nowadays people mainly go to church out of choice. This means that fewer people go. But the people who do get more actively involved in the church itself.
Most churches fill up more over the holidays or on special occasions. But everyone is welcome to attend whenever they want.
3. Modern Churches Focus on Community
Because of their more concentrated congregations, churches have become a more tight-knit community.
This means any modern church is usually home to lots of different community groups. This includes home groups, Sunday schools, support groups, and Bible study groups.
A lot of communities also use their churches as a space for fundraising or to promote worthy causes. This means each community influences what you will see around its church.
4. Churches Today Spend Less
Churches used to be places of huge wealth all around the world. This is because people would donate money in order to gain religious favor.
But this is no longer the case. As a result, the people who run the churches are more frugal with their spending. This means that churches feel less extravagant and more welcoming.
5. Their Appearance
Spending less also means that the church transformation is both external and internal. Modern churches often look very different to older churches.
Older churches focus on extravagance. This is because they used money to show their commitment to God.
Nowadays, expensive stained glass windows feel less important. They cost a lot to install and maintain.
Often the design of modern churches is much simpler. This means the pastor can focus on other matters while running the church.
6. The Competition Between Churches Is Over
Focusing less on financial benefactors has also changed this aspect of church-going.
A lot of churches used to compete with each other to have the biggest congregation. A lot of the time this was because a bigger congregation meant more financial support.
Most churches still rely on charitable donations or support from the diocese. But more controlled spending means they’re cheaper to run.
This means that they can focus on bringing in a congregation who wants to be there. Rather than drawing everyone in and trying to squeeze money out of them. In many ways, this restores the church to its proper purpose.
7. The Leaders Are Always Learning
More time to focus on the internal workings of the church also gives the church leaders time to focus on themselves.
In the past, church leaders would qualify for their role and then stop learning. The assumption was that they knew enough.
This has changed. Now a lot of church leaders adopt an approach of continuous learning. Many attend conferences or courses to expand their horizons.
This means they are always building on their knowledge. As a result, they can serve their congregation’s needs better.
8. The Lessons Churches Teach
The Bible hasn’t changed, but the approach to welcoming people into religion has.
There used to be an assumption that all churchgoers knew what was expected of them. This meant that their relationship with religion was very personal. And the pastor dictated how they worshipped.
In contrast, modern churches welcome questions and confusion. They’re a place to explore, understand and learn.
In fact, the modern church is a great place to turn if you’re feeling uncertain. They offer a lot of support.
For example, you might be thinking about getting married. This is a big decision that some people need guidance on. Rather than telling you what to do a pastor will help you think about the commitment.
9. Bible Study
Bible study is a big part of religious exploration. So it’s unsurprising that this has changed too.
It used to be a matter of studying the Bible in order to learn the rules it tells you to live your life by. And there is still an element of this.
But modern churches also encourage you to engage further with your Bible. Find things that confuse you and discuss them together. It’s a great place to discuss your doubts.
At Bible study, your queries will fall on friendly, helpful ears.
10. They’re Moving with the Times
It isn’t all parchment and dusty Bibles. Modern churches are moving with the times to make themselves accessible.
A lot of churches welcome programs from visiting speakers. These will be of interest to the community. So you can expand your learning through the church.
They also use technology to reach a wider audience. Some churches have podcasts. Others, like the Parkway Fellowship Church, have up to date websites so you don’t miss out on any news.
The Bottom Line
Churches still hold an important place in any community. But modern churches are more friendly and less authoritarian. They’re a great place to learn, explore and grow.