Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Cancelling Christmas and Other Rants

Christianity Today's Weblog reports on certain Megachurches cancelling their Sunday services that fall on Christmas Day this year. See the link to the articleshere. The reason given by these churches is that they want to allow their attenders to spend the Christmas holiday at home with their family rather than having to come out to a worship service at the church campus. My ABE forum buddies have been having their own rant on this one. Mostly the arguments against have centered around the megachurches' capitulation to our self-centered culture, the improper exaltation of family over the corporate worship of the Christ of Christmas. While I agree with some of these objections, my own rant has more to do with the annoying practice my church has of trying to combine the December 25th Sunday Service into one big celebration.

Quoting from my post there:
"All this togetherness by combining services is overrated in my book. It's also pretending (to any visitors) to be a church you're not the other 51 weeks of the year.

First, you have all the additional traffic caused by the twice a year C&E crowd that you try to shoehorn into one facility with the regulars from x number of different services. You end up setting up chairs in the aisles, standing or turning people away. Faithful Central Bible Church can do it, but then again they own the Great Western Forum (where the Lakers used to play). (In my church, that's potentially 500+ people into a facility that seats 400+.)

Second, for those of us with separate services with different styles in each service, you have a choice as worship planner of making the combined service a reflection of only one of the styles or of trying to mix the different styles together. Do really think that someone who's in love with choir, organ and traditional carols wants to hear the rock band play a City on a Hill "It's Christmas" number? Or vice versa? The previous combined services have the old folks plugging their ears (or walking out) while the band played at its normal sound level. If you try to blend the two, every last choir and musical group feels the need to present a number (or two), so we get the bell choir, the traditional choir, the children's choir, Sister So-and-so singing a solo (badly, sometimes), Brother Not-so-Talented playing his instrument that he hasn't touched all year trying to fit in with the band. Yikes!

Third, some people don't quite get the word that you're not having the same number of services you usually have at the times normally advertised. We get all kinds of people showing up at regular 1st service time, looking puzzled and confused when you tell them that for this week, the service is 45 minutes later. Same holds true for the people who show up with the combined service almost over thinking they're right on time for second service. Do you think those people are motivated to come back to your church the following week? This is not exactly the best foot forward to present to people who might just be open, by virtue of the season and the coming New Year, to giving church attendance(and possibly following Jesus) a try.

Some folks in my church just love the idea, particularly the ones that think that the only reason the Contemporary style worshippers don't attend the more traditional service is that they haven't yet tried it. The Staff and the CE workers like it because it's less work -one service to prepare for, no Sunday School. All this may be easier on the Pastor (only having to preach once) and some members may like the scrunched in feel (I don't). But remind me why this would be a good idea again?"


  • At Thu Dec 08, 09:01:00 AM PST , Blogger Laura said...

    As a band member one comes to mind--only one and a selfish one at that: the band gets to sleep in. On the downside, some years we've had to stay on stage because there was no place to sit.

    Oh, and on that the "cancelling church" rant that's flying around that blogosphere: most of the megas are having full-blown Saturday Christmas services. But then we all know that God only shows up on Sunday... yeah... right.

  • At Thu Dec 08, 01:04:00 PM PST , Blogger Ann said...

    I do like the fact that we can sleep in an extra 15-20 minutes -the rest of the extra time eaten up by having to allot rehearsal time to all the other musical groups, but I don't think either cancelling or combining makes sense on the MOST WELL-ATTENDED SUNDAY OF THE YEAR. We should be ADDING to the number of services on that day, not reducing them.

    These seeker-sensitive Megas want the unchurched to come to their facilities, but don't want them coming on the day and time an unchurched person is most likely to attend. What kind of logic is that?

    As for TFB and its reasons for combining, I still think the cons outweigh any pros for doing so. I also don't think some of the real reasons for having combined services are articulated out loud for fear of the proponents sounding selfish or lazy.

  • At Thu Dec 08, 02:47:00 PM PST , Blogger Jeff said...

    I'm sorry I hate all combined services--if it falls on Christmas or not. The service just ends up trying to please to many people and in the end just ultimately failing.


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