By now I’m sure most of you have seen the “Sunday Morning” video put out by Northpoint Media. I don’t know the context of the video, but one can (I think) safely assume that the folks over at Northpoint are doing a bit of a “wink, wink, nudge nudge, let’s poke a bit of fun at ourselves” type of thing, presenting, what they (probably) think to be an over the top caricature with just enough truth to sting.
The video has made the appropriate interwebs-osphere rounds in its pursuit of “viral” status. Everyone seems to think it reminds them of the church just down the road, but never about themselves. But I wonder if, at least part of the reason it spread so quickly was not just because it reminds us of the church down the road but of ourselves? A friend and I have been having a sporadic e-mail dialogue about some aspects that the video (probably unwittingly) points out.
Though the degree of showiness may vary from church to church, I wonder just how different most of our churches look from one another on any given Sunday morning. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (or a good thing), but it is something to think about. I am comfortable saying that Church of the Cross, where I pastor, has a very different vision than many of the churches surrounding us in the Northwest Valley of Phoenix. But, truth be told, we don’t always look all that different from most of those same churches. There are intentional differences, but, unless you’re looking for them, they will be subtle.
The video pushes an uncomfortable question for some of us: is it OK to look different on a Sunday morning? What might it look like? Why do we do things the way we do? What would you change if you could and why? But there’s still a more fundamental issue underlying these many questions: what we win them with, we win them to.
Our thoughts about God and church should drive what we do and how we do it. Instead, many of us never stop to think through even basic issues like the order of worship or who speaks from “up-front,” much less more complex things like: is it good that in most of our churches, 97% of the people are passive on a Sunday morning and expect to be entertained/served? Once we start down the “contemporvant” road and people start coming, we can’t turn back because we’ve drawn people with a certain style that they now expect and if we don’t give it to them, someone else will, but chances are, someone else is competing with us using the same style and they’ve got more money for the fancier lights and foggier fog and sparklier lights, so we’d better review our budget and up the ante because this is what we drew people with and it’s what they now expect . . . you see the cycle and the problem, right?
Many of us recognize that there is something wrong with the approach portrayed in the video but I wonder how well we can poinpoint why it’s wrong and what our solution might be. The “Sunday Morning,” perhaps unwittingly, points out all of these issues, but does it in such a way that each of us can pass it along with a “wink, wink, you know that church, right?!,” without ever stopping to think about what it says about us. It reminds us that, not only should our understanding of God and church drive what we do on Sundays, what we already do on Sundays says alot about what we think about God and church, even if we’re not always sure what we’re saying.
What a great opportunity to re-think and dialogue.
And just in case you haven’t seen the video yet: