Monday, August 16, 2010
Do Church Signs Lie?
Michael Spencer, in Mere Churchianity, says that millions of people are leaving the churches because what’s on the sign outside the church isn’t matched by what is actually happening inside the church. I’ve lived through an experience like this, where the “do” became so disconnected from the “say” that it nearly tore the church apart.
It wasn’t on a sign (although the vision statement was displayed on banners) but this is what was said: “We are not trying to be the next Willow Creek.” The “do,” however, was just he opposite. And the “do” was taking the church down a very destructive path.
Relationships were damaged. Friendships ended. Founding members of the church were driven away. Teaching moved away from the Bible and toward books by John Eldredge and The Prayer of Jabez.
The canaries in the coal mine left first. What started as a trickle of departures was masked by an initial surge in attendance. The trickle became a flow, then a flood. We left at the tail end of the flood.
And we left damaged. I wish I could say something else, but that’s what happened. By “damaged” I mean hypersensitive to any kind of change.
When our current church moved to change the format of one of the worship services, we freaked – that’s exactly how it had started before. An elder acted tone-deaf when we asked a question – we had seen that glazed-over, “they’re not with the program” look before.
This has had the effect of building walls, avoiding any involvement beyond the bare minimum, a reluctance to get too close to people in the church because it could all blow up again and you want the freedom to be able to walk out – and immediately.
I was one of those people Michael Spencer wrote his book for.
My review of Mere Churchianity.
My article on the book for Christian Manifesto.
Bend the Page, a place to discuss Mere Churchianity.
When Church Signs Lie by Fatha Frank at Public Christianity.