Church weddings, funerals, and most Sunday services reflect the values and dramas of their communities, even when the ministers are the main or sole actors. This point is illustrated by examples ranging from American television masses to the Zairean three-hour services in the Congo. Of greatest interest to readers might be the Sunday services at ordinary parishes, which also range from friendly but uninspiring to innovative and inviting. There are also two exceptionally vital churches analyzed here: an evangelical church in the Pentecostal tradition and a social justice parish in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr.
Today one can hardly buy an item in a store or on the Internet without being asked for an evaluation, yet church services are seldom evaluated. There can be no improvement without evaluation. This book proposes a method of evaluation in eight steps that must be rigorously scientific and at the same time offer a vision for spiritual growth. The prophet Elijah found God in earthquakes and fire, but most people find mystery through art, music, rhythm, chanting, expressive readings, evocative rituals, and enlightened homilies. Today people expect "mystagogy" rather than routine performances. Mystagogy can be learned and improved through evaluation, to which this book desires to make a major contribution.