Megachurches on the Defensive
Why aren't some churches meeting on Christmas Sunday? Why have church at all?
Whatever the uproar over closing of churches on Christmas Sunday means, pastors and pundits are sure that it means something big. For people on both sides of the argument, the debate shows what's wrong with contemporary Christianity.
The debate has become an excuse for some to compile every criticism of what they think the megachurch movement is about. (Among the problems with such a critique is that many megachurches are having Sunday services, and many small churches are closing on Christmas, too). Closing church is seen as capitulation to a consumeristic, market-driven culture, a metaphor for placing cultural style above the substance of the gospel.
For some defenders, the criticism of the closings is representative of the judgmentalism and rigid dogma that has led so many away from "institutional" churches, and is the reason that "seeker-sensitive" churches exist. Those who insist that you go to church Sunday morning instead of Saturday night, they say, are akin to first-century Judaizers and are the ones missing the freedom of the gospel.
As Weblog wrote last week, this debate really is iconic. Both sides seem to agree that the story itself is a tempest in a teapot: more symbol and indication than a major development in itself. But what it symbolizes gets to the heart of many of the current intra-evangelical debates:
What is church? Is "real" Christianity about private devotional life or about ordered corporate life? Why do we meet as churches? What is the relationship between the church and church members, church attendees, and interested non-Christians? Is a church service where the majority of attendees are non-members or non-believers still ...
Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
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