Saturday, June 30, 2007

Those Sneaky Atheists

Whenever articles like this come up (and there seem to have been a slew of them recently), they eclicit dual reactions within me.

First, I cheer them on. Yeah! Point out those churches' flaws! It's about time Christians got a feel for how the outsiders see them! They need to take these types of things seriously!

Second, I come back down to earth when I realize that I am part of they. And then I get defensive. "Hold on a second," I begin to object. "I don't think you're giving them a fair shot. Did you really want to be helpful, or just to sit near the back and take a few self-satisfied swipes?"

Probably both, in their own way. Some comments are genuinely helpful. They question cultural appropriation (at the UCC church...ahem), they criticize the "Jesus wants you to be rich" mentality, they appreciate genuine welcome but recoil when it gets too Disneyworld. At other times, it does seem more like the arty theatre kids making fun of the cheerleaders...but sometimes it's just too easy.

These types of articles can be quite a wake-up call for those of us who live in the church culture and hear little from outside observers. I got one such wake-up call earlier this year before conducting a wedding. A few guests were acting all goofy about being in a church for the first time since their parents stopped making them go...I remember feeling like I'd been written off as some sort of hopeless dorky religious type that day. So it didn't take an article for me.

Anyway, scroll down through it. What might they write if one of them showed up in your sanctuary?