“Just screwing around with the design doesn’t help”

Whether with light shows or video projections, “event services” have only “moderate effects” in binding people to the church in the long term, according to Wurzburg liturgy scholar Martin Stuflesser.

According to the Julius Maximilians University (JMU) on Tuesday, such formats with light shows and video projections tend to have the effect in large cities that people find their way back to the church and engage with the Christian faith anew.

“Just screwing around with the design doesn”t help”

If you want to fill the pews again, you have to ask yourself why so many people have distanced themselves from the church in recent years, says the professor. For the liturgy, this means: "Simply changing the design of the services does not help."Because then people critical of the church would only come because it was an event – "but as an event, it might only revolve around itself," says Stuflesser.

He is critical of the fact that there is an "eventization" in all areas of society. In many places, attempts are currently being made to retain people in this way: "Because it is not only the church that has the problem that people stay away. Parties, trade unions and associations are also experiencing this."

Lack of resources in the church

In the case of the church, this is compounded by a lack of resources. In emergency situations often only the answering machine jumps on in the parish office. In Stuflesser’s estimation, it’s mainly because people stay away from church – less because of a lack of event character. "The question of the quality of normal church services also plays a role."

In a corresponding research project with his JMU colleague Hans-Georg Ziebertz, he found out, among other things, that liturgical norms are being deviated from across the board. For example, the reading from the Old Testament was often omitted – for fear that the services would last too long and the visitors would not understand anything. Stuflesser takes a critical view: "After all, all parts of the Bible are considered Holy Scripture."

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