each week I will set forth a topic to promote discussion about some aspect of Christianity, the church, or the spiritual life. please join the conversation!
this week's discussion:
"do we need another 'cool' church?"
two postcards came in the mail the other day, advertising the "grand opening" of a new church in town. on the front of one was the word "religion," and it was crossed out, and on the other was a picture of a guy in jeans and sneakers along with the words, "these are my church clothes." the church has a cool, spiritual name—"the journey church," and here is the list of what they say they offer:
- casual, relaxed atmosphere
- a community of authentic, caring people
- great live music (singing is optional)
- practical, meaningful teaching from the bible
- a safe, FUN environment for kids
- church that lasts an hour or less
- free [local establishment] coffee & doughnuts
now, i have several questions about this, and i would love to get your feedback. my questions are:
- do we really need another church like this? in our town of franklin alone, there are at least 9-10 similar small church start-ups or groups, most of which have this same vibe—cool, casual, non-religious christianity. why another?
- is this list of offerings really what people are looking for in a church and in their faith? and even if they like some of these characteristics, do these things truly represent what a church should be offering? what kind of christianity is being presented here?
- what does this advertisement say about what the leaders of this church think of the established, more "traditional" churches in town? isn't their self-description a pretty explicit condemnation of the traditional church? where's the christian love and belief in the "catholic" faith with an approach like that?
- doesn't the very method of marketing imply a "competition" model of church growth that pits them against the other ministries in the area? and isn't their style and aggressive advertising more likely to draw unhappy church people looking for something fresh rather than non-churched people?
- is it really possible that people won't see through the hype here? "franklin will never be the same!"—really? "authentic, caring people"—really? (have you ever been in a church?). faith without religion—really? isn't this all a bit triumphalistic? can they truly deliver?
today's van gogh
the sower, 1888