“Those [churches] that are growing are living the gospel in a relevant way with energetic leaders who adapt, good lay leadership and dynamic preaching...”Reading that this morning caused some thoughts to coalesce that have been drifting around for a while. As a response to the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, commentator (and ordained minister) Mike Huckabee famously talked about the tragedy as not surprising considering that "we've systematically removed God from our schools." He goes on to lament the fact that Americans often pretty much ignore God until a crisis hits, then go running to church in search of comfort only to vanish weeks or months later after the ripples from the latest tragedy have died down. The fallacy in his argument, beyond its pastoral shortcomings, lies in equating the church with God. But that theological discourse will have to wait for another post.
This is a frequent lament by pastors and priests: we have larger numbers of people in our pews on Christmas, Easter, and after traumatic national events but those people don't seem to be interested in sticking around and becoming a part of the faith community. Those of us who are part of this faith community are often puzzled about this. However, reflecting on what church means for people, such a phenominon, while perplexing to those who have made the church their spiritual home, makes sense based upon a person's view of what church is. Four views come to my mind.
|St. Luke's Hospital, San Francisco|
|Photo from the Forma web site--Godly play.|
As we end Advent and approach the Christmas season, may we have room in our hearts for Christ, our homes for one another, and our church for those who seek a place of rest and refreshment--and perhaps an appointment with the One who is Emmanuel, God with us.