Many churches in the SCM have submitted to the currents of mainstream Evangelical culture, seeking to attract members and stability through polished programming and managerial skills adapted from the corporate world. One need not critique every instantiation of such practices on theological grounds simply to observe their fluid and ever-changing state. Every year for the past several decades, it seems that “church” is re-invented through a new sermon series with the inevitable deluge of programming and marketing. I make no claim to know what the specific catalyst was (if there even was a single one)—perhaps the movement’s slow descent into unabashed nationalism in its worship following the World Wars, or perhaps it was the “worship wars” waged in the 1990s in many churches—but whatever the case, it seems that many in the SCM have come to see the truth of Basil Mitchell’s insight: “Those who are liberated from tradition generally become slaves to fashion.” Indeed, we have arrived at a point in time where so many churches have now fashioned themselves to be “church for people who don’t like church” that it is seems the word “church” has been vacated of meaning.
One of many good zingers in a new essay on history and the Restoration Movement by my friend Stephen Lawson.