In a desire to reach out to the un-churched some Catholic parishes have dabbled with the ‘church growth’ movement and attempted to make parishes ‘seeker sensitive’. The desire to reach out to the un-churched is good but the idea of mega churching a Catholic parish is bizarre. Faithful parishioners, those most likely to help with an effort at evangelism are only going to be alienated and anyone attracted will likely not stick with it. This is only the most recent trend, the last 50 years has seen repeated failed attempts to modify and dumb down the liturgy in an attempt to make it ‘relevant’ to the ‘youth’ or the ‘man on the street’. Usually this takes the form of low quality inferior sacro-pop music or other forms of entertainment being added to the Mass . These attempts ALWAYS FAIL and so will this new thing. Here are my thoughts on mega-churches, outreach and its relation to liturgy.
Mega-churches– I say mega but it includes small ones as well. What I’m talking about is the loud, glitzy evangelical type congregations who use flashy lights, projector screens, smoke machines, lots of marketing and rock bands punctuated with emotionalized uber simplistic preaching, and everywhere glitz, glitz, glitz… ‘and remember to visit our café after the service for free Starbucks coffee’.
Depending on how important being ‘seeker sensitive’ is to the leadership the hard things about Christianity may never be mentioned. “Take up your cross and follow me”…… not so much.
A stereotype? Yes but reasonably accurate. The thing is, while I am generally opposed to this form of religion it does play a role. Many people who know nothing about Christianity start here, it’s similar to other secular experiences and for some people comfortable. It is in this setting that many people encounter Christ for the first time. They cannot stay here however, what they are fed is the spiritual equivalent of cotton candy. If one is to keep the faith long term one must move on. Let’s bust some myths right here. Many Catholics are under the impression that these Churches are very successful, and experiencing massive influxes of converts. Yes they are experiencing influxes, mostly of sheep from other flocks. The reality is that there are revolving doors on these churches and the majority of new people were already churchgoers of some sort or another. Additionally (and as a former evangelical I can say from experience) a good percentage of people who ‘get saved’ don’t stick with it long term.
So summarizing what’s under the glitz:
Good- Getting the lapsed and un-churched to hear about Jesus. Providing a start and temporary home for those who are wondering about this Jesus.
Not So Good- Depth, substance, maturity and stability.
To be continued…..