Monday, October 4, 2010

the starbucks church video

This isn't new, but it's been doing the rounds of the UK blogs. Always Hope makes no particular claim to originality, so I share it with you in case you haven't seen it yet:



OK, it doesn't work at every point, and some of it doesn't cross the Atlantic very well, but it makes you think, especially about the general naffness of so much of the stuff we do in church. My favourite bit is the "greeter" who blatantly ignores the people coming in - one of my bugbears in church, and something which I had the opportunity to experience personally last year when I visited some of England's best known evangelical churches (tell you which ones? perish the thought.)

I think it's quite subtle too. The bit that really makes me think is when he's going on about "we got 75 converts last year - 75!". Don't misunderstand me - I do believe there's "rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents" [Luke 15:7], but I don't think that's what this is about. It's about churches who think that a newcomer is something so amazing that they make them put up their hands so everyone can see them (incidentally ensuring that they never come again). It's saying, can you imagine Starbucks making such a fuss over the fact that they got a new customer?

This is what we often do though. What does that say about our attitude to our own churches? If we really believe that Christ is good news for the world, why are we so surprised that people sometimes want to come to church to find out more about him? We should be more surprised that people aren't queuing round the block every week. And yet many churches are consistently taken off guard by new faces, opting either to ignore them or to single them out for painful attention.

Welcoming people into the church should be as natural for a regular worshipper as opening a hymn book or listening to a sermon. The fact that we have to work so hard to get our welcome right is a sign of our lack of confidence in the gospel, or at least that we haven't made the connection between the gospel and what we do in church.

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