Once a month or so I pass by this church with a dreadful LED sign:
“COME TO ME!”
it blares in red,
“AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST!
“MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE 11:00 A.M.
“ADULT & CHLDRNS STUDYTIME 9:30 A.M.”
For some reason, I’m never tempted. I feel as if I am being sold something, somehow, which isn’t surprising since signs like this often have messages like,
“10% OFF TODAY ONLY
“BUY ANOTHER ONE OF OUR PRODUCTS NOW!”
And while the LED sign is no doubt an improvement over something with Pepsi or Coca Cola on it, it is still a disturbing reminder that this is the modern world we live in, and this is what it looks like.
“We need to be part of this world,” I remember hearing in the days we attended church.
“When families come in and they don’t see the latest technology, they’ll leave, so we as Christians have to be on top of it all.”
Actually, in our days of attending church, the first thing we noticed upon entering a new congregation was whether or not we felt welcomed — and not just the initial greeting at the door when the bulletin was thrust into our hand, but from beginning to end.
We watched the people to see how, or if, they interacted with one another, and the more informal and relaxed the atmosphere, the better we liked it. We were looking for a church family, after all, not a corporate environment.
As time went on, however, the corporate environment, and the concern that the church run smoothly, efficiently, and more like a business, became more prominent, until the day came that we realized it was enough to work in an office and be treated like an unimportant employee five days a week, and we didn’t need an extra day added, on Sunday, to remind us that we were controlled, instructed, circumscribed, managed, and asked to do extra work, for the “family,” or the “community,” or the “team.”
The church — the true one that Christ is the bridegroom of — is supposed to look, and act, different from the world around it, but when the church — the one run by men and denominations and councils and religious celebrities and the mass media Christian sub-culture — looks and sounds like a business, then we have to ask ourselves what Christianity is coming to these days.
What is the real thing, and what is the cultural, corporate substitute?