[Part of a series].
I realize it’s been quite awhile since I continued my comments on my trip to Chicago (December 17th). Well, there were the holidays, and then we had a death in the family. Those are my my reasons.
To Him Who Has a Hammer
You may recall, my last post in this series was called, “Is That So Bad.” If you haven’t read that post and the two others, this may be a good time. At the end of that post I said I’d be addressing the issue of waking up sleepy churches. Why that?
While at the Chicago mini-conference I had commented to the group and its enthusiastic hosts that I thought the churches in the Summit network seemed sleepy to me; that we needed to get energized. Some of our groups, particularly the ones that have been going for many years, were comfortable with themselves. That’s a common condition in house churches but it’s not necessarily fatal.
My comment was just the invitation needed for our hosts to assure me that their products were the answer to sleepy churches. I gulped. I had forgotten that this wasn’t a gathering of brethren on the same journey who might have some helpful suggestions for a fellow pilgrim. No, I was a market segment, presumably with money to spend. I had confessed a problem, and to the folks who had a hammer, my problem was the nail. Wide awake house churches were just a few dollars away.
I smiled and nodded, but remained unconvinced.
A Word From Our Sponsor
I was unconvinced for the same reason that many others at that conference were unconvinced — or so I’m finding out. Simply put, many of we simple churchers actively resist commercialism. When we left the systems of the traditional church we not only did so because of its inefficiencies, abuses, and stagnation, but because of its commercialism. We had come to see that the organized church operated by the standards of the Western economy. As such, it tended to minimize relationships while emphasizing productivity and return on investment. I realize that is a generalization. Still, contemporary churches are often modeled after corporate America and look for shortcuts to success while neglecting the fundamental value of community and love.
To have found that return to commercialism in a gathering of house church folks seemed jarring. As I put it in an email to a friend that I met at the conference, “…the money machine and corporate enterprise has invaded my space — they know we are here and they’re coming for us.”
So, what about those sleepy churches? Is there anything that can be done to keep us from getting too comfortable in our church relationships? I’ve been looking for good reason to contact the gang that showed up in Chicago. Since I don’t intend to buy a solution, I think I’m going to ask them.