Wednesday, December 21

Maybe I wasn't paying attention the last time Christmas fell on a Sunday (1994), but I don't remember the how churches handled it back then. This year, I know of congregations locally that are handling Christmas in a lot of different ways:

1) Some are having regular services as usual.

2) Some are reducing the number of services they have on Sunday, say from two services down to one.

3) Some churches are having Christmas Eve and Sunday morning services that will be identical. Others are having Christmas Eve and Sunday morning services that will be different.

4) More churches than I would have guessed are dismissing Sunday morning services all together. Some are small churches, but others are some of the largest congregations in America: Willow Creek Community Church, Southland Christian Church, Mars Hill, and Fellowship Bible Church of Little Rock among them. Many, I'm sure, will have a Christmas Eve service of some kind.

5) At least one church I know is dismissing their Sunday service but sending a DVD with a pre-recorded service on it for their families to use at home that morning. It includes time to take communion and instructions on how to go online to make a financial contribution to several different ministries.

6) And Fellowship Bible Church of NW Arkansas (one of the largest in our area with a weekend attendance of about 7,000) is actually adding two services. They will have three Saturday night services (rather than two) and four Sunday morning services (rather than three).

Any thoughts on these options?

I'm kind of glad I'm not having to make that call. In campus ministry, our last service was on Dec. 11 and our next one will be on Jan. 15!


From David P. Gushee's article, Our Missing Moral Compass, in the November issue of Christianity Today:

"If one labors in the vineyards of most sectors of American evangelical life, it does not take long before one notices that staggering moral sloppiness that frequently characterizes us. It's not just that Christians are sinners, too, and that we mess up like everyone else does. Of course that is true.

The problem goes deeper, to the way in which we have understood the very structure and meaning of the Christian experience. For many of us, Christianity is primarily a faith, that is, a body of beliefs to which we assent. Or it is primarily an experience, that is, a repertoire of inspiring, encouraging, or even ecstatic states entered into through worship and prayer. Or it is an event, that is, a one-time moment of conversion in which we 'walk the aisle,' profess our faith publicly, and join the church, guaranteeing ourselves a heavenly mansion when we die.

But it seems important to see Christianity in all its dimensions.... We are indeed morally sloppy, and I think it is because we have embraced truncated versions of the Christian faith that have trained us to be this way.... Christianity is more than an event, an experience, or a set of beliefs. It is a way of life characterized by moral seriousness and the quest for holiness."

No comments: