Saturday, August 12, 2017

I like Cheers Church

Confession: I do not like big churches. I actually look down (as I said, this is a confession) on people who attend mega-churches. With no evidence beyond the anecdotal, I assume that they joined for reasons unrelated to solid Gospel preaching. For the accoutrements. For the Starbucks and the Krispy Kreme (yummy) and maybe even for the anonymity and the lack of necessity for service. No nursery or cleaning duty--professionals take care of that. Your money is required of you, that's all. Attend and feel good--and make another installment payment on that staircase to heaven you have in lay-away. I assume that apart from the minor annoyance of bookending traffic jams, attending a mega-church is easy. Too easy.

That is what I imagine. How much truth there is, I don't know. But I'm pretty sure I shouldn't so readily assume that it is true, and especially not when I meet someone who attends a mega-church.

I don't even like modest sized churches. While visiting churches recently, we spent a few Sundays in a church with three services, and about 200 people in each service. The sermons were solid and the body, by all indications, was committed to serving the community. But I thought to myself: I could attend this church for years and the pastor could bump into me in Costco and not even know I was a member of his church.

I thought: there is something wrong in attending a church so big that the pastor and elders may never know your name. Where there are attendants directing you where to park. That can't be the biblical model.

So I did what I always do when I am sure that I am right. Or, more accurately, when I want to be right. I went to the Word to cherry-pick passages that support my position. A tried and true method! Yes, I actually do that all the time. I try to convince myself that, since I'm aware of what I'm doing, I at least make a good faith attempt to be comprehensive, examine context, and follow the bread crumbs. But in reality, I'm usually pretty satisfied if I find a "proof text" for my position. Short of that, given enough time, I'll find a theologian who agrees with me. An argument from authority is still an argument!

In this case I came up empty. I found nothing applicable to the issue of church size. I found nothing that (a ha!) taught that you should only be in a local church where (Norm!) everybody knows your name, and they're always (or at least some of the time) glad you came. And no help whatsoever from theologians... if they have achieved fame then it turns out they are almost certainly leading huge churches.

I still don't like big churches. My only micro-progress is that I also don't like that I don't like them.

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