“It was like they had to keep coming up with one ‘gimmick’ after another  to keep people engaged” Byrnne said.  She cited “exhaustion” and “overload” among her reasons for leaving the IC.  “I never had time to just ‘be still and know that I am God.’  ‘Church noise’ got in the way.  My former IC was too busy running a spiritual MTV show to allow people to hear God through all the noise.”

Jamie chimed in, “First it was the Rick Warren ’40 Days of Purpose’ thing.  After that faded, leadership got on this small group kick.  Then it was ‘Every Member a Minister.’  Then it was Friday Night Family Film Fest.  Then parenting seminars, then youth bands, then….” He laced his fingers across his chest and sighed.  “I couldn’t keep the Flavor of the Month straight after awhile.”  He elaborated that while he didn’t necessarily see any of these events or emphases as “bad,” he did consider them “distracting” and “superfluous” at times.  Heart-hungry for something deeper and more authentic, Jamie left his IC and joined a simple church.  “We’re not flashy, but we’ don’t have to be” he said.  “We’re real.”  He’s never looked back.

“It’s like the IC is competing with Entertainment Tonight” Danni said.  “Apparently focusing on walking with God, studying His Word and obeying the Spirit is too boring or mundane.  The IC’s gotta provide a weekly sideshow to bring people in.”

She and her husband left the IC several years ago in order to pursue a deeper, “more authentic” walk with God “without the gimmicks.”  Her husband Dale added, “We got tired of the games and the gimmicks.”

One pastor boasted about “bringing in the biggies” and lining up “out of town talent.”  Is that what church is about Kyle asked, “Big names?  The Sunday show?”

Kyle continued, “Isn’t there something weird going on when a ‘church’ has to constantly come up with new gimmicks to keep people interested?  What’s up with that?”

Good question.