Sunday, February 22, 2009

Generic Christian Church

I still think this is a great idea, naming yourself Generic Christian Church. "We have worship. We have Sunday School. We help those in need."

What kind of worship do you have? they ask, trying to fit you into a slot, or find some reason to reject you. "Oh, we have some singing. Some prayers. We read the scriptures. The pastor gives a lesson. You know, just regular worship."

So many churches that claim to be non-denominational are essentially soft-shell Baptist, or Christian rock concerts with audience participation. That's just denominationalism done informally. Self-selection by style and region. Or churches will make such a deal about how bad denominations are that they will become one themselves, like the Campbellites. Stealth denominationalism.

If the idea doesn't attract, what else is it that you think should be there so prominently? Reform movements that want to bring the Church back to basics often have some idiosyncratic ideas they call "basic." This is supposed to avoid that.

I thought of having a black-and-white bar code as a symbol, but that would freak out the end-times fundamentalists too much. It might improve attendance as they sent people over to keep an eye on us, but I doubt they'd put much in the plate or volunteer for stuff.


Anonymous said...

Most thought-provoking, thanks! Indeed, whom to take seriously - it's a dismal search. For fun, as I'm often up early, I enjoy watching this biblical literalist who speaks of the end prophesied to come in May, 2011 - and that the Earth's living creatures only go back 13,000 years. I appreciate certain of his interpretations of Bible passages, and his understand his condemnation of the various apostasies throughout Church history, but find his fundamental premises quite assinine really (another preposterous one being that no matter if you follow the Word as best you may, and perform acts of goodness throughout your life, if you aren't one of the Elected to enter the Kingdom at the end, then sorry Charlie anyway ... Gee, what a great incentive toward living in Christian obedience). The only creed he adheres to (or professes to at least) is the written Bible - never mind all the contradictory parables, accounts and interpretations therein. Yet at the same time he would claim that he professes a generic, nondenominational way of living - without Church fathers, saints and theologians, but merely what one chooses to realize by reading and taking in the Bible's lessons. Is there ever any escape from all the manmade, flawful views that people live in the delusion that it's what Christ meant to convey as the Truth? Sorry if I ramble, getting tired ... Cheers, Tom

Donna B. said...

One of the few churches I like to attend fits that description (I think) in their worship services, but is hardly a non-denomination.

It's the one at the bottom of this page:

Of course, I'm rather biased as the co-pastors happen to be my aunts. And I vouch only for that congregation.

I've never been there when the message wasn't in some way about how the members could make someone else's life better. These discussions always stem from a scripture.

From my minimal knowledge it would seem that most of the differences in denominations have to do with how one gets into heaven or is damned.

This small congregation generally avoids that in favor of how Christ's teachings impact daily life.

I attended a Christmas Eve candlelight service at a very old, large church in a city on the East Coast last year. The beauty and history of the church, walking through the cemetery to the door, the magnificent pipe organ, so many things put one in a worshipful mood.

Yet the sermon was harsh. My daughter (who was married in that church by the man preaching that evening) was befuddled, saying that she certainly didn't remember him ever preaching that way before (he's retired now).

My other daughter and her husband (Catholics) just said they'd never thought it about that way.

I kept my mouth shut for once :-)

Anonymous said...

An interesting proposition, AVI, done somewhat in jest I take, but valuable for the perspective it provides.

The impossible part of it is that flesh and blood people go to church that have a culture; or in pomo terms, come from a variety of sub-cultures all with needs and expectations to be met.

That's why I've come back to liturgical worship: it provides a regular "menu" of items as you suggest without catering too much to the present culture.

The problem is that just as the use of Latin died out from irrelevance, so may the Latin rites and customs. A menu no one wants to eat anymore. Perhaps.

We're sesnual beasts - in God's image - and the generic brand may say it's the same inside as Campbell's but I think most of us would like the nice can.

Retriever said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Retriever said...

Good post. I grew up Anglican, living in Catholic countries, and still miss a solemn High Mass, bells andsmells, the liturgy and the mystery. I would have become Catholic if it were not for their refusal to ordain women, too much veneration of the Pope, and the priests abusingkids.

I left the Episcopalians (tho trained to serve as a priest in that denomination myself) because they weren't evangelical enough, and were too PC politically, and mostly because my kids' choir director of 8 years turned out to be a child molester and kiddie pon perv nabbed in a Fed sting.
We now go to pretty close to a generic Xian church. Evangelical, great preaching, focus on the Word, always talking about how to help other people, small groups, great Sunday School. Ugly modern building and horrid music. I put up with the praise songs because I am so fond of the singers. Full of love. Not perfect, but close enough....