Thursday, October 11, 2007

Truth in Advertising

How many times have you seen a church promote and encourage membership with tag lines like the following?

Finally A Church for Those Tired of Playing Church.

A Fellowship for Those Who Can't Keep Up With Religion.

A Place Where You'll Be Accepted, Not Judged.

Real Answers. Real Life. Real People.

Here's an authentic question. Aren't churches who promote themselves this way guilty of the very thing they're criticizing? While avoiding religious types is now widely seen as the chief virtue of the truly spiritual, it's an extremely judgmental and arrogant attitude cloaked in designer jeans, trendy frames and western cut shirts. The basic premise is clear: "come join us - we avoid the types of people you don't like." In this case it's the organized religious types. After all, they're what's wrong with the church. Right?

Ultimately, everyone is welcomed - it is assumed - except those seen as unwelcoming. It's the same as being tolerant of everyone except the intolerant. Sometimes the caricatures employed are downright slanderous. While I'm certainly all for not taking ourselves too seriously, promoting your church by promising others they'll be able avoid certain people is clearly unbiblical.

Isn't this casting judgment (something they pride themselves on not doing) on a whole category (although a stereotype is being assumed) of people? That's outright prejudice! It's also a very obvious straw man which should insult our intelligence.

Three basic observations come to mind. First, while we are told to anticipate a spirit of authenticity, what we're likely to experience is immaturity and shallowness. What else could result from a group of people who have assembled themselves based on such superficial criteria? Second, since it's based on carnality, it is certain to promote division rather than unity. What will happen the first time the leadership (organization) decides something many in the general populace don't like? Third, it encourages the very thing it seeks to avoid. Rather than promoting diversity and understanding, it ends in uniformity around a certain desirable type of church culture.

Who wants to be around a group of people like that? (Hee Hee)

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