Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Innovative Church

I was just emailed this remarkable ditty from the NYT.

To summarize, it's all about churches trying to design their "worship" experience to suit the audience of the worshipers. Consider that for a moment. The essential message is that, who/whatever God is, how He is to be worshiped is none of His concern. The individual decides how they are going to worship God, and if the Almighty has a problem with that, then He'd best just suck it up and deal.

This is an odd arrangement for man's relationship to his ostensible deity. I'm not sure if I can come up with a historical precedent (or even a limping analogy) for believers who dictate to their god the terms of their relationship. Oh, sure, there had to be some of that among false religions. I can't imagine all paganism, etc. was the product of direct demonic motivation.

Our situation now is decidedly different, though. Even in the days of paganism, there was at least a class claiming to get direct revelations from the gods about the appropriate ways the masses were to commune with them. If you'll notice the trends in the articles, this isn't what's happening. The push now is to re-construct the most appealing items of the profane world (art galleries, music concerts, coffee houses, and so forth), shoehorn in mentions of God, then call it worship, regardless of whether the label actually fits.

Of course, what's really happening is that we are creating fun parks with a religious veneer. All the better for worshiping ourselves, which is what this is all about. There aren't a whole lot of other explanations for why our alleged encounters with God just happen to be in the environment where we get to do all of our favorite stuff.

It makes you wonder what such people think of the martyrs. It's an odd time when we've gotten to the point that worshiping God on His terms has gotten so inconvenient that we have to seek out customized religion.

When someone focuses all their energy on enhancing their experience, what exactly does that mean? Isn't that really an admission that it's all about themselves?

Consider the following from the article:

“Every generation wants their own thing,” said Houston Clark, whose company designs spaces and audiovisual systems for churches nationwide. “Kids in their late 20s to midteens now, they really crave intimacy and authenticity. They want high-quality experiences, but don’t necessarily want them in huge voluminous buildings...”

“That’s a significant difference for us,” said Paul Miller, the pastor of ministries for Bent Tree. “We’re really building a community center, more than we are a worship center.”

Hey, if the shoe fits...


Mark of the Vineyard said...

Our parish priest is now pushing for the congregation to hold hands during the Pater. My wife and I won't go along with it, so we get all kinds of looks. :-/

Throwback said...

That infiltrated our parish about 15 years ago. Thankfully, my family is big enough now where we take up the whole pew so there's nobody trying to grab one of us anymore.