I just heard this evening about the fourth person I know in the last couple of years who has been invited to cease serving as a worship leader in a church in the greater Atlanta area. The reason? They were too old to suit the “target demographic” or, as some of the church leaders involved have been so bold to say, “target market.” No doctrinal errors. No personal moral failures. Not poor musicianship. Just too much gray hair, or maybe not enough hair, maybe too many wrinkles, nothing but the fact that they looked too old.
How did we get here? When did we lose sight of the nature of the church that the Bible describes? When did Madison Avenue-style marketing strategies take the place of biblical ecclesiology? When did the church become Church, Inc. instead of God’s household as the Bible conceives it?
This trend of thinking of the church as a corporate business entity has certainly led to some so-called churches growing numerically. I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush here, but church leaders whose view of the church allows them to dismiss professional quality musicians who have hearts full of passion for God and leading his people in worship just because they don’t have the look of a target market have become oozing boils on the beautiful face of Christ’s bride. They are a pox on the household of God.
Shame on these leaders. Shame on us all as the church for our failure to be faithful in being the church God has designed and guarding its integrity by not publicly denouncing those who stain its image this way.
I am angry, as you might have noticed. But I am even more broken-hearted for the church and these congregations particularly. I pray for the leaders and the people in the congregations involved that God will reveal to them their error in ecclesiology. I pray too for the worship leaders and teams involved that their hearts will be guarded and that God will move them on soon to the next place he is calling them to serve. I pray for myself and my fellow leaders in the church in which I serve that we will never lose sight of who we are called to be. I pray that we will be about bringing glory to our great God by executing his mission of disciple making everywhere with everyone rather than targeting a demographic or market.
(Eph. 3:20-21 ESV) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.