Sunday’s Coming: Contemporvant Service Movie Trailer

So funny. Did he say “contemporvant”? This is EXACTLY what we did each Sunday when I was a pastor and a leader of contemporvant type church service, back in the early 90’s. I was the guy doing the talk each week although I looked a lot cooler than the preacher-dude with ALL THE ANSWERS in this video. Obviously.

“Sunday’s Coming” Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Hilarious!! People sometimes ask me why I gave up on that model and shifted over to organic/house church and what used to be called “emerging church”. The reason had to do with a God-directed shift away from unsustainable resource-hungry models of church towards reproducing movements of God’s people being the church and celebrating together without having to put on an expensive show. So we dumped the stage and focused our time on living out the gospel rather than performing it on a stage, and making disciples rather than attracting spectators. Although I do miss that weekly buzz from pulling off a great “service”, as I talked about in my 2004 post entitled, House Churches Have No Sex Appeal.

Now we find ourselves part of a global movement that is becoming the new majority, although many of these movements never did the contemporary/relevant church service like we did.

When we were doing the contemporvant stuff, with the bands, and the projected images, and the drama, and whatever else we did, we used to say that even though it looked cool at the time, people would eventually ridicule it. Now, that day has come and North Point Media have done a spectacular job!! One day soon, some clever people are going to poke fun at the simple church movement and I look forward to watching THAT video when it comes.

UPDATE: After posting that, I noticed that Bill Kinnon had some good thoughts and a link to Jason Coker who is reluctant to tell anyone he is planting a church because of all this stupidity. And Jon Reid has a list of reactions to the video.


Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)


  • Do you think North Point Church will change their service as a result of making this satire, or do you think that their service pretty much follows the order they parody above?

  • Mark – yes I did say new majority. Australia might not have caught up yet.
    I just spent 3 months in north africa where the MAJORITY of believers meet in simple house churches. Same for India and the areas of the world were the church is growing the fastest – the new majority church is a simple church and not the other. Maybe I am close to it, as you say, but doing research on location rather than from behind a desk should not disqualify my findings but rather add some validity to them
    show me a country where churches are being planted rapidly and i will show you a country dotted with house churches as the emerging majority, rather than the building-dependent, stage-led churches led by paid professionals which fight against multiplication and are very expensive to start and maintain.

  • chris – no – i think north point will have a laugh at themselves and keep going, as will most of those churches, but i do hope they will allow the next generation to have the same freedom in starting the kind of churches that God leads them to start.

  • As someone who attends Northpoint, let me respond to Andrew and Chris. The fact that Northpoint made this shows that they know there is a danger in not being authentic, in duplicating services of other churches, and putting too much emphasis the senior pastor.
    Northpoint emphasizes the small group setting over the worship service.
    Let me quote Dan Kimball, who is familiar with Northpoint:
    “But I know at a church like North Point, their “winning” is done through Starting Point, which is not the big worship gatherings, but small groups that go through a study of the storyline of the Bible. They even dedicated a HUGE section of their building to Starting Point. So they do have “attractional” worship gatherings with music and all – but they emphasize Starting Point (it is something like Alpha) where relationships are built and questions are asked etc.”
    In regards to what the next generation may bring, Andy Stanley (the senior pastor of Northpoint) reminds his leadership that the current format may one day be outdated and will then need to change, and that enouragement for new and fresh ideas needs to be given to leaders of that next generation.

  • and thanks Rick for that. i think its great that northpoint can laugh at itself like this. and i would also say that even though seeker /contemporary services can be terribly FORMULAIC, the conservative reformed church services of my youth were every bit as much. so were the charismatic services and perhaps even more so.

  • Yes, self-deprecating humor and satire reminds people not to take themselves too seriously, the importance of humility, and helps jar people out of their ruts.

  • .. but having made fun of themselves they don’t seem to see the reason to do things differently.
    I imagine that the Hollywood Original triggered the idea.

  • “becoming the new majority….”
    the parts of the world you cite are also worse off economically, not to mention culturally not very advantageous to christianity. small/house communities would be the best choice because they are most likely the only choice. you compare both models in a scenario where all things are equal when they clearly are not. i’m sorry but I’m having a hard time imagining a place like North Point being common choice for christians in India or North Africa.
    but if it makes you feel better….

  • Zach – why not do a little research yourself and see how new house churches are outpacing new traditional churches in a wealthy country – say . .. USA
    Start with George Barna’s research on my post here and see other findings, and then look at Lifeway research on how many trad. type churches were planted last year .. .
    and then come back and tell us what you find.

  • does anyone take Barna seriously anymore? apart from Barna…of course.
    I reckon we see what we want to see in research.
    In my context, Australia, the small church/emerging church movement has pretty much died, by its own admission, while its former leaders do book tours in the US

  • Chris-
    They are always exploring ways and reasons to do things differently. Will much of that format/pattern be the same? Yes. However, the inauthenticity would be problematic to them, so they would want to find ways to be genuine and appeal to the unchurched.
    A big difference is in the pastor character. Andy Stanley is not like the pastor in the video. Andy does not really go for the dramatic, manipulative method. He is more “tell it like it is” (with his good sense of humor) and drive home a principle point.
    Likewise, and this is big and I have mentioned it before- the worship service is not the goal for Northpoint. In fact, Andy has said that if people had to choose, he would rather them attend their community/small group gatherings instead of the large Sunday gathering.
    Again, quoting Dan Kimball:
    “I know at North Point Church, the one who made the video, I was talking to a staff member there who said that the senior pastor spoke to all their small group leaders. I think they have 1,000 small groups or something like that. I was told how he was stating over and over again to them “you’re the pastors…you’re the pastors!” – stressing how in their smaller groups is where true pastoring will happen, where if someone is not there they are missed, if someone is hurting – it is known, where someone’s gifts and passions are known and can be expressed etc. So it all depends on whether the church like that one, does see the incredible importance of the smaller settings and structures the church to make sure that happens for people to be shepherded and cared for.”
    Now if some of that format currently appeals to people and helps get tied into community/small groups (which is Northpoint’s goal), then should it not some of it continue to be used?

  • hi mark. you remind me of your dad a lot. he was such a stirrer . . in a good and positive way.
    i see your point but when you start adding the online sptl community folk and those that have abandoned the sunday service in search of daily community without structure [hard to count, those ones] and some others, then you get a larger number than just house church
    however, as you hint, not enough numbers to make a majority by any means. same for usa and nz and UK (although some researchers argue that more Christians avoid the church rather than attend (UK for example)
    but you have a point regarding australia – which is why i mentioned “the areas of the world where the church is growing the fastest” – which excludes the slow-coach countries like australia and usa.
    anyway – nice to chat again.

  • so when you say “becoming a new majority” you’re talking about kind of communities started and not number of christians participating in small/home communities? i guess that’s a more palatable claim but it still lacks the consideration of other factors. for instance, i wonder if this trend has more to do with the fact that starting house churches is a much more cost effective way of starting something new compared to the traditional approach. sometimes, as i’m sure you’re aware, our preferences are dictated by the facts on the ground and not necessarily by an objective desire to seek the ideal.

  • Now if some of that format currently appeals to people and helps get tied into community/small groups (which is Northpoint’s goal), then should it not some of it continue to be used?

    The medium is (an important) part of the message conveyed, and so I remain to be convinced that a purely pragamtic approach that ends up aping consumeristic culture is necessarily a good thing long term.
    I think the experience of Willow Creek (which sadly they have just appeared to brush over), can show what can hide behind impressive headline numbers.

  • Okay Andrew, I will try and play nice! 🙂
    All of us speak from our own experience, what we see happening.
    Two cases.
    A nameless friend of a Baptist Church here in Perth. A visiting speaker comes along, talks about emerging church stuff, uninvited. Then proceeds to take down numbers and names post service and a group leave from the church. 6 months later they have all drifted away from the EC group as well, dissuluisioned.
    A Youth pastor grabs hold of EC stuff, deconstructs a thriving youth group doing great stuff in the local high school to the point there is about 3 people left, doing a bible study in a home.
    Now I know the negative examples dont discount the other good stuff God does do.
    But….the truth is, in Australia there are a number of healthy growing churches, my group of peers are leading them! We dont make a fuss, but we are growing and seeing people come to Christ, in a increasingly apathetic society.
    I have seen a number of deconstructionists come in with high ideals, but that is all they have done, deconstruct. They have not built anything, then they have walked away from it, and left the mess for someone else to clean up.
    Let me be frank…I believe what matters to God is fruit.
    Perhaps in a culture where there is persecution (India China etc) the idea of ‘clusters’ is appropriate and works. But where there is apathy, I dont think it does. We have to serve our communities, and this takes structure and a mobilised loving group of people committed to prayer, service, worship and love.

  • Chris-
    I don’t disagree with you about the importance of the medium. Fortunately, I think many in that format are aware of the problems that could develop.
    The main issue I see with this format, in some churches, is a lack of real focus on Christ. If anything, and this may be related to your concern about pragmatic consumerism, there is a “moralistic therapeutic deism” emphasis. I left a church because of those concerns.
    However, not all mega/seeker churches are the same. Some, like Northpoint, really work to avoid those pitfalls.

  • Fascinating post Travis, and response.
    Some criticise, critique.
    Others get on with the task of building the Kindgom.
    I know what I would rather be doing.

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