I’ve been doing this for more than a quarter-century now.
I started in 1990. I’ve served only two appointments in that time (1990-1999 at Mt. Carmel-Midway in Monroe and 1999-present here at Good Shepherd), but I’ve seen more than a couple of changes in ministry.
In fact, there are number of things that almost never happened in the past that almost always happen today. Here are five:
1. Memorial Services rather than Funerals. What’s the difference? A memorial service has no body present — it’s either been cremated or donated to science. A funeral has the casket and proceeds to the burial. I’d say 75-80% of what we do now involves cremation, something that was exceedingly rare in Union County, NC in the early 90s.
2. Wedding venues rather than weddings at church. Today’s wedding/reception combos take place at event centers, old mansions, converted barns, and lakeside patios. Less nostalgic but also less stress.
3. Facebook “likes” taking the place of in home pastoral visits. I’m exaggerating, of course. Sort of.
4. Sermons that people SEE as well as HEAR. Back in the day, the Sunday message consisted of words spoken into the air and hopefully landing in the ears and souls of listeners. Today, it’s not just words. Ever. It’s images, clips, demonstrations, and well-timed photos.
5. Songs from the radio setting the stage for the sermon in church. Years ago Larry Norman asked with only a hint of irony “why should the devil have all the good music?” Well, he doesn’t anymore. There’s plenty to choose from these days, including a few churches can “borrow” from those who are sometimes called “secular artists.” We used this one last month to set the table for a message on forgiveness.