12/27/2005

church or unchurch?

On my drive to work I pass a Calvary Chapel. Today I noticed a banner in front of the church advertising their Christmas services. The top of the banner read “Calvary Chapel Christian Centre.” Not church. Centre. The fact that seeker-sensitivity can be taken to such an extreme that communities of believers stop calling themselves a church makes me really mad.

Not only is this indicative of the "whatever it takes to get people to attend on Sunday morning" attitude which has relegated the gospel to second-class status in many churches, it promotes an “us-vs-them” perspective of the church. An article in the November/December '05 issue of Modern Reformation put it this way:

The unchurch tells the unchurched, “Yes, everything you’ve suspected about the church is true. The church is backward, lifeless, boring, and self-serving.” The unchurch survives and thrives by reinforcing the popular negative stereotype of the church.
When we lived in Corona, we were just down the street from Crossroads Church, whose prominent slogan was "A church anyone can come to". In other words, “We’re not like those backwards Lutheran and Anglican churches down the road who still use vestments and liturgy. You’ll feel at home at our ‘Christian centre’, which is much more contemporary than those other churches whose services only focus on worshipping God in the same way Christians have been doing for 2,000 years.”

I should clarify that I’m not accusing either of the churches I mentioned specifically of not preaching the gospel. I’ve never attended a service at either of them, and I know similar churches in which the gospel is most definitely preached. I am accusing them of being so concerned with attracting unbelievers to church that they are willing to promote a divisive stereotype which brands other forms of Christianity (i.e, those that have been around for more than 50 years) as passé, undesirable, and irrelevant.