Sunday, January 17, 2016

Is the church relevant today?

Two inner west Sydney churches have had this theme for recent talks. Ashfield Presbyterian for lunch time talks (attended by about 3 people), Summer Hill Anglican for the sermon on 17 January. There was one stranger at the Summer Hill evening service. For a self-billed 'we'd love to see you' church with 'welcome' on its webpage carousel, the stranger was left strangely alone, as I observed.

When organisations use provocative slogans, the slogan itself usually diagnoses the very problem it announces. Thus, only a church that is struggling with relevance or obsolescence (Summer Hill's word), would even think of those words in a slogan or advertising.

So, then, where is the radical discipleship, the rejection of the world's materialism and its pagan channels (, the disarming engagement with strangers?

I wonder?

A couple of reasons why the church is irrelevant: it is self obsessed (look at me, look at me), not people obsessed (thus the 'church' organisation over against the 'congregation' of people, to refer to Coverdale's word), it wants to fit in and be liked, it takes up only the challenges that it thinks society expects it to take up, but declines to articulate a critque of society at its sensitive points (I've aluded to them above); in its publications it speaks only to itself (with only one exception that I know of).

In books, articles, on TV (I think of John Dickson on Q&A for instance), it strives to be 'nice'; just like the Saducees did in Jesus day, I expect, but unlike them, never confronting the unspoken materialism of our time.

However, substituting kid's face painting, free ballons and glove puppets for the great existential questions: who am I, why am I here, why do we die, why is there something rather than nothing, does humanity have any dignity...Shaeffer gives the drill...amounts to the church turning its back on its mission; instead of Paul's example we have naive 'corner-store-ism'.

In short, it is doing its best to be irrelevent, obsolete, and no darn good to God or man.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.