Thursday, December 08, 2005

No Church on Christmas Morning?

This morning in missiology the issue of megachurches who are not having worship on Sunday came up.  It turned out to be a lively discussion.  While I have a critique of many seeker-sensitive megachurches I nonetheless think they have a great deal to teach the post-mainline church about what it means to critically engage culture.  For many of these churches, which have committed themselves to being family friendly, having worship on Sunday morning, especially following huge services on Christmas eve, would be more of a burden than a genuine worship experience.  The cultures to which most of these megachurches aim is one that does not traditionally celebrate worship on Christmas morning.  While that is the case in some settings, for them its not.  

My other beef is this – when since has worship been reserved only for Sunday?  I understand the theological significance of gathering on Sundays, but many churches have found that worship services on Saturday evenings are well attended by a different segment of the population?  Is it most important that we gather on Sunday or that we gather?  To me its the latter.  

I think what so many post-mainline churches fail to recognize is that the culture shift has had a dramatic influence on our families.  Even from when I was growing up kids are programmed at a younger and younger age between the 102 things that they're involved in.  Some decry this as proof of the downfall of American families, and there may be some truth to that, but it also is showing an increased interest in providing opportunities for kids to be actively involved in things, rather than simply turn them into a bunch of tv-watching latch key kids (which was what my generation was).  If the church can give people a gift on Christmas morning by saying "hey, stay home with your family and enjoy a day together" then so be it.  Dr. Sunquist said, "Christmas isn't about family" and he's right, but in our culture family is a crucial part of family celebrations and if the church fails to understand that I think its made a crucial error.  

I am not saying churches shouldn't have services Christmas morning, but I'm just saying that we should be careful in judging the decisions of other churches as to what they decide.  

Side note: Matt Bell made a great comment at lunch about the stone-throwing that we here in seminary tend to do when it comes to mainline churches, "its out of envy more than anything".  Ha, isn't that true?


At 1:35 AM, Blogger Ruef said...

I would tend to agree with your sentiments about the chance for many to celebrate Christmas with their families instead of having a sunday worship service. I do believe that it is more important that we simply gather one day that week to celebrate Christ's incarnation and birth, but that it is not essential to celebrate that event on the 25th, especially since we all know that it probably wasn't that day anyway. And I may remind you that it is not only some of the megachurches that are not choosing to worship on that day, but also one or two of the Emerging churches too. At least, I'm sure that Hot Metal is celebrating Christmas on the 23rd again this year which is awesome. It was so great to celebrate Christmas on the 23rd last year and to be free to celebrate the holiday with my family and friends. And Amen to the Matt Bell comment.
Merry Christmas!

At 11:34 AM, Blogger John said...

I was hoping no one in class that day would look at me, considering The Open Door is not worshiping together in Christmas. We're joining Valley View Church in worship on Christmas Eve, they're a predominatly African American church very near where we worship. Most of our congregation is young, 20's and 30's. Many are unmarried, just married or married with very young children. We figured that most of our people would recieve it as a blessing if we told them to worship with their families on Christmas morning. I would guess that about half of our congregation will not be in town on Christmas eve or Christmas day, they'll be home with their parents or in-laws. We're calling our plans for Christmas a "worship scattering", we've said to everyone - Go worship God wherever you find yourself on Christmas day, in a worship gathering with your families, around the dinner table, or around the tree.

I think eventually we will worship as a community on Christmas day, but for now this is best for our people and I think it is still glorifying to God. We should worship on Christmas, lets broaden what it is to worship and where we think worship happens.

At 9:32 PM, Blogger Backwoods Presbyterian said...

I believe that Christ has taken a back seat in many mega-churches to the God's of convenience and personal preference.


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