Ultimately, what is desired is something that makes one laugh and cry but ultimately does not really outlast the event itself. Most individuals that I meet would like something uplifting, with the appearance of being challenging. It might be even more accurate to compare many contemporary church services, especially the sermons, to the local nightly news or 60 Minutes.
Even more interesting than the desires that both of these rituals seem to invoke is the growth on these events to become more and more like one another. I should say that the majority of this confluence comes from the churchs' integration of visuals and mood music to create an "atmosphere of worship". In addition to the house bands and laser lights, I have been surprised to see visual scenes crop up during the sermon. So the pastor will be talking about the piece of God, and the projectors will cut from the Bible verse to pastoral scenes of lambs and waterfalls.
Without even getting into the problems that I have with churches no longer asking the congregation to bring and open their own Bibles, what purpose does this projection serve but to act as an emotionally manipulative act? Are the members of the church unable to imagine for themselves what "peace" means?
Even if we allow this trend, I was amazed a couple of months ago to see a pastor mention an experience that they had had, and he actually cut to a flashback.
i know that this makes me sound like an old fogey, but I remember sitting and listening to the pastor work as a story-teller. He would craft an entire picture for the listeners. I understand that not all pastors are "great" orators, but must we reduce them to anchors who merely man the desk and present an editorial at the end of the hour, like some Andy Rooney? Have seminaries dropped so low that graduates can get out with a bit of biblical study and a knowledge of how to edit their own video and play three chords on an acoustic guitar?
Must every pastor be a great theologian to be a good leader of a spiritual flock? Absolutely not! However, they should be able to connect with their congregation on a real and present basis. There should be more than an intro and outro framing a 15 minute "Features" story. I want a pastor who is a teacher! I want a Rabbi! Dammit, I want a leader! I know that I live in a college town and that that influences the sorts of congregations that are available, but I don't want a VJ or Mister Rogers (as cool as both these might be in their own way). It would just be nice to walk into a church and find a critical thinker at the front, not a cheerleader.