Saturday, March 03, 2007

Reflections in a MegaChurch Coffeehouse

Here I am, sitting at my 3-day church conference in Alabama.

One of the many realizations that I've made this trip is that I have a love/hate relationship with the church.

On one hand... to be quite honest, there can be such a hokeyness to it all. Take the conferences: the idea swapping with overly nice 40-something dudes in polo shirts and khakis. The strategic planning that won't make it any further than the car ride home. The incessant head nodders taking notes to help make their church too into a golf-cart shuttling, TV-station hosting, bookstore-sporting MegaChurch. Top this off with the look-at-me presenters who, while probably meaning well, have a look-at-what-I've-done air about them.

Then there's the contemporary worship, with its dramas and stage lights and bad music. Its silly pop culture rip-offs and poorly produced videos.

There's also doctrine and theology, which opens such a bag of worms that I won't even begin to go into.

And on the other hand? It's beautiful. It meets the needs - real or imagined - for many people. It invites me to be less judgemental, seeing everything and every seemingly un-hip person and procedure as exactly what it is and should be. It kicks me in the ass when I realize that everything that drives me nuts about it is less a reflection of the church than it is of myself.

It's a place that opens people to service and giving and community and God. It gives ordinary people like me the opportunity to use their gifts and creativity to work in a Mini-Hollywood with sets and props and rockstars and production. It downplays separation by connecting people together and then inspiring them to just be better people when they're interacting in their workplace. When it's done correctly it shuts out no one and is the great equalizer - giving love and meaning to the ones the world pisses on. It is what it is - and it doesn't deserve my negative criticism; it reminds me that all things are positively perfect.

So, now, as my eyes roll up in my head at the guy with the FBI Jesus ("Firmly Believe In...") who just walked into the church's in-house Bookstore to purchase a book that I would probably consider spiritually and theologically premodern/barberic, I'm gently reminded of the love and order that undercurrents all that is and my own need to be more accepting. And while most of the world - and myself, much of the time - sees the church as either silly, outdated or misguided, I'm enamored with it and I freakin' love it.
//Sent via T-Mobile Sidekick 3//


David said...

wonderful reflection, yo. I was cringing in agreement with the first half and definitely identifying with the latter part as well. funny sidenote: two of my buddies in indianapolis work for a firm that goes after copyright infringing products and their top offender apparently is the christian t-shirt...ya know, like God'sway instead of Subway. Awesome. but, anyway, great post :)

Celeste said...

Sounds like you are a thinking and caring man, Trev.

Sometimes we can learn best the way we want to be with others, with the world, by seeing what we DON'T like in other churches, teachers, etc.

Surely Jesus was about caring and acceptance. It's hard for me to imagine that he'd be into MegaChurches and the gold thrones some of them have.

I maintain that Jesus has gotten some seriously bad PR and 'spin' in modern days.

Jon said...

Love. Isn't it great?

Julie said...

That so fantastically hit the nail on the head...

gratefulbear said...

I agree with Celeste; this was a very thinking and caring post. I have a similar relationship with my church, which, being Episcopalian, doesn't have the pop culture rip-offs or poorly produced videos, but it does have problems of its own. It also has incredibly caring and wonderful people who are there for people when needed.