Here’s my two cents for what I think we’ve been through in the last half-century. I don’t have any sources because I haven’t done the physical research, but I’ve been here, been in a Baptist church my whole life, and this is what I think has happened.
In the 60’s, our churches were full. Then our culture changed. So we went into preservation mode. We were happy if we could keep doing things the way we’ve always done them. One of the big changes in our culture was rock and roll music. More and more people liked songs played by drums and guitars and a few singers instead of pianos and organs and choirs. In our preservation mode, we held on to the pianos, organ and choirs as long as we could. Then the people coming to our churches liked music played by drums and guitars and a few singers and didn’t care for pianos and organs or choirs, even though there were still lots of folks who liked songs played by pianos, organs and choirs.
So what was the result? We became focused more on music than we did on our mission. We have somehow gotten the idea that church is more about what we like than about what we do.
So what’s our mission? Making disciples. (Matt 28:19-20)
How do we do that? I don’t know. But we’ve got to stop looking at what we like or don’t like and start seeing church as being part of a team trying to make disciples. Which also means we’re gonna have to do some things we don’t like. Think about it.