Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Convenience and the Church

I've been thinking a lot about convenience lately. And I've been thinking about Church on Christmas Sunday this year. A lot of people have been posting about it - Ben Witherington and BroGreg are just two. Apparently, the idea of churches closing on Christmas of all days is such good news that it has made CNN.com's front page - story here. (thanks for the heads up Mom.)

The conversations about churches being open for services or not ask questions about convenience. Should the church try to be convenient for people? Or should the church push to be counter-cultural and sometimes, then, non-accommodating? Or something in the middle?

These questions don't just apply to Christmas services, but to the life of the Church as a whole. This Christmas, we've moved our Christmas Eve late-night service an hour earlier, and our Sunday morning service an hour later, in an effort to both give people some family time and get them to church on Sunday morning. But I admit, I'm highly skeptical about how many will show up. Who wants to go to church on Christmas? Can we expect people to be there?

At my church, we've added a Saturday evening worship service - a second service. I like the service - it is small, and somehow more contemplative - 'contemporary' yet quiet. Relaxed, and spiritual. But I'll admit, one of the major factors in starting a second service wasn't because our Sunday service was busting at the seams - we started the Saturday service to offer a convenient time for folks to come to worship. People kept telling me reason after reason of why it was inconvenient to show up for worship on Sunday morning. I wanted to eliminate at least that variation of excuse from the rotation of reasons for not coming to worship.

The church has such an image problem - so many people see it as not welcoming, as judgmental or hurtful or abusive. So, sometimes I think it doesn't hurt for the church to accommodate people's needs, to draw them in, to get them connected, and to keep them in a place where they can slowly but surely be challenged into a life of discipleship. But when do churches cross the line and try to make it too easy, too convenient to claim faith?

What do you think?
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