Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Church closed on Sundays

When I was looking for my first position in a church, I would joke with people, saying "I'm really interested in parish ministry, but I'd like to keep my weekends free!"

Of course it's a joke, for many reasons, not least of which is that we meet to worship on Sunday mornings.

But now I read in an AP article on CNN.com that some churches are closing for one or two Sundays this year. (Hat tip to my brother Matt for the reference.) Specifically, there are a good number of megachurches such as Willow Creek which are closing down for Christmas and New Year's this year, because they fall on Sundays. They are doing this because of what the church leaders anticipate will be low attendance. (Of course, low attendance for Willow Creek would still fill some churches, but never mind.)

But I'm still trying to get my mind around it: not only will these churches fail to worship together for two Sundays in a row, they also won't mark the day of Christmas -- one of the principle feasts of the year! -- with worship.

They will counter that they are indeed worshipping, just on the days leading up to Christmas and not on the day of Christmas. Then they'll mention the numbers they'll draw: 21,000, 30,000.

It's not that they don't have a slender point. It's just that I really wonder how much they've grasped the strangeness of the Christian message, and the degree to which it changes you and might make you a bit out of step with the surrounding culture. Since near the very beginning, Christians have worshipped together on Sunday, the day of resurrection, and first day of the new creation; since not too long after that, we have marked the feast of the Nativity (however it is reckoned -- December 25 is a later introduction) together in worship.

Don't get me wrong. As I implied in the last paragraph, there has been change and innovation of sorts all along the way. But it is a different thing to say that all change, because it is change, is good. And it is my estimation that this is one kind of change, in our cultural moment, that forms us in ways which are not helpful to us to live faithfully as Christians, because it seems to me that the upshot of this all is that to reach the unchurched, you can't actually be a church.

And that's just nuts.


Blogger Thunder Jones said...

I think it tells us what the lack of liturgical influence has wrought in the world of mega-churchery.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005 5:07:00 PM  
Blogger Barnabas said...

Yes we need to make church more relevant, I spoke at Housegroup meeting this week about those on the edge of society, making church more inclusive not exclusive.

Maybe not doing church on a Sunday maybe in a pub on a Wednesday evening, Jesus meet people where they were, he meet them at the point of their need, perhaps we should be doing the same!

Thursday, December 08, 2005 8:13:00 AM  

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