Radical Preaching

Can preaching again have something to say?
This blog marks the attempt to bring the theological vision of Radical Orthodoxy into the worship and preaching of the local church.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Megachurch (Grinch) Who Stole Christmas

Sorry the posts have been slow. I will post days 6-7 probably in the next week. I have a major paper due this week along with a hectic church calendar and sick little girls and wife.

Anyway, I found this article on Yahoo News, and it so well reflects how the evangelical megachurch has succumbed to capitalist discipline.

Evidently, a number of evangelical megachurches will not hold Sunday services on Christmas Day since it is a "family day." Northpoint in Atlanta will not hold Sunday services on either Christmas day or New Years day the follwoing Sunday.

Here is the rub, and what I believe to be the capitalist discipline to which they have succumbed. When asked why they would not hold Christmas services,
Cally Parkinson, a spokeswoman for Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., said church leaders decided that organizing services on a Christmas Sunday would not be the most effective use of staff and volunteer resources. The last time Christmas fell on a Sunday was 1994, and only a small number of people showed up to pray, she said."

"If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don't go to church, how likely is it that they'll be going to church on Christmas morning?" she said.

Others added,

"If we weren't having services at all, I would probably tend to feel that we were too accommodating to the secular viewpoint, but we're having multiple services on Saturday and an additional service Friday night," Willison said. "We believe that you worship every day of the week, not just on a weekend, and you don't have to be in a church building to worship."

Troy Page, a spokesman for Fellowship Church, said the congregation was hardly shirking its religious obligations. Fellowship will hold 21 services in four locations in the days leading up to the holiday. Last year, more than 30,000 worshippers participated. "Doing them early allows you to reach people who may be leaving town Friday," Page said.

Here are some of the problems as I see them:

1) Christmas as "family day."
2) Making decisions about worship based on attendance.
3) Reducing worship to a form of evangelism aimed at a "target audience."
4) Reducing worship to individual expression and emotive experience.
5) Believing that worship can take place apart from the body of Christ.

What do you think?


Blogger Chris Burgwald said...

Scott, I saw a similar item at Touchstone Magazine's blog (Mere Comments), and was surprised. I was even more surprised to read that it's customary for some churches (e.g. the Baptist church in which the writer grew up) to not have a Christmas service if the feastday falls on a weekday. (!!)

BTW, I concur with all five of your points.

December 07, 2005 8:02 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Unfortunately, not having a service on Christmas day when it falls on a week day is pretty much the standard for all evangelical Protestants. Really, Christmas Eve services are a fairly recent phenomenon.

When I pastored in Atlanta, we had a megachurch that celebrated Christmas Eve on the second friday of December to accomodate all the holiday travelers.

One encouraging sign is that more evangelical churches are beginning to "discover" liturgy. Our denominational Sunday School material is actually centered on Advent at the appropriate time on the Christian calendar. Interestingly, there is a growing number of Protestants, and evangelical Protestants at that, that are seeking a return to tradition.


December 07, 2005 9:13 AM  
Blogger Eric Lee said...

More threads on this same topic:

Internet Monk (Michael Spencer)

Verbum Ipsum (Lee)

Versus Populum (Dwight P.)




December 07, 2005 12:18 PM  
Blogger Eric Lee said...

Wow, this is indeed making the rounds.


Gower Street

December 07, 2005 1:19 PM  

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