Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin Laid an Egg...
"Christmas is really about being with family. It should also be a time to relax from the busyness of the season."So who does this sound like? It sounds kind of like the mildly non-religious sentiments of the average American who enjoys the trappings of Christmas without any of the overtly religious stuff, doesn't it?
Guess again. Paraphrased, this is what a handful of Christian megachurches are saying.
I'm not sure that I can say anything about this topic that hasn't been said already, but I am going to try. As many of you have heard, quite a few "mega-churches" have announced that they do not plan on having church services on Christmas this year which falls on a Sunday. Some of these churches include North Point Community Church in Atlanta, First Baptist of Atlanta, Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, Fellowship Church in Dallas, and Mars Hills Bible Church in Michigan.
"It's more than being family-friendly," Willow Creek spokeswoman Cally Parkinson said. "It's being lifestyle-friendly for people who are just very, very busy."
Says Willow Creek CEO Gene Appel, "We don't see it as not having church on Christmas. We see it as decentralizing the church on Christmas--hundreds of thousands of experiences going on around Christmas trees. The best way to honor the birth of Jesus is for families to have a more personal experience on that day."
[As a sidenote, why does a church have a CEO???]
There are many criticisms about this move but the one that resonates with me is that this is just bad theology.
It is high time to destroy this idea that the Christian faith is simply a personal, private thing. It is so much more. The Christian life is inconceivable outside of a community of fellow Christians.
Gene, I couldn't disagree with you more. The best way to honor the birth of Jesus is for families to celebrate with their greater family of fellow Christians in community together.
Update: I have written a new post responding to some of the comments and clarifying my position on this.
Update: I highly recommend this outstanding piece by John Muether of Reformed Theological Seminary over at Common Grounds Online.