Monday, June 01, 2015

Church Truancy Officers

Someone linked me an article a couple of days ago by a guy named Nathan Rose, 5 Spiritual Dangers of Skipping Church. Now the title alone is laughable and contains both religious click-bait (This guy went to church and YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!) and culturally based false religious notions but the content was just awful. I especially liked number 4: You can’t minister to anyone. Right, because most Christians spend so much time "ministering" to each other while staring at the back of the heads of other Christians. Of course in our institutional context dropping a check in the plate is the highest form of "ministry" permitted to the laity so I can sort of see what he means. Nathan, my unmet brother, if you think that you can't minister to anyone unless you are in a church building at an appointed time when you are not permitted to so much as speak to each other for most of the time you are there, I am wondering if you know what "ministering" means. The whole thing is a poor man's version of the usual 9 Marks style church attendance guilt machine. Number 5 was kind of depressing ("You skip out on a foretaste of heaven") because if heaven is an endless series of boring religious lectures and old guys thrusting an offering plate in your face, that doesn't sound all that appealing.

Nothing screams New Covenant fellowship quite like professional scolds threatening, cajoling, guilting and sometimes begging Christians to attend a religious event.

That was sarcasm in case I was being too subtle.

So I was fixing to write a thorough response and rebuttal for giggles but saw that someone else beat me too it. Rob Wilkinson posted Answering The Church Truancy Officers, and while I don't know anything about Ron and what else he believers and it does contain a lot of pat house church-type generalizations and buzz phrases, it also pretty neatly eviscerates the argument put forth by Nathan Rose. It isn't hard to do if you put forth any effort but an awful lot of people don't even realize how wrongheaded and anti-biblical arguments like what Nathan Rose is giving really are.

At the most basic level, if church is something you have to guilt or threaten people into attending, it isn't legitimate and it isn't worthwhile to go in the first place. Clumsy attempts like Rose's to scare people into attending church utilizing just awful "exegesis" don't really help the cause. Church shouldn't be something you do out of fear or a misplaced sense of duty, marching stoically off to church to do your part for your country local church. It should be a time to gather with other Christians and encourage one another. I don't usually feel encouraged when I am somewhere that someone else tells me I have to be at. I don't feel encouraged to drive a car when I am sitting in a plastic chair at the DMV holding a number ticket because Caesar says I need a license to drive on his roads.

The Anabaptist had the right of it, the church is a non-compulsory gathering of discipleship. Threatening people into attending church is not what the New Testament has in view. Making people feel guilty is for telethons, not for the family of God.

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