In my newspaper this morning was the flier I’d been hearing about. It’s a joint ad, from various local churches, meant to encourage people to attend a church this Easter: “This Easter, the churches of your city invite you to Pick A Church Any Church”. Above this headline is a photo of a checklist of various denominational names, with the caption “There is NO wrong answer to the question”. At the bottom of the ad is the web address http://www.pickachurchanychurch.com
I’m glad local churches are reaching out to invite people. That’s good. But I have wonderments and thoughts:
- the ad clearly implies that the differences between denominations (Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Nondenom, etc.) don’t really matter. Would any of the participating denominations really man that? Sola Gratia doesn’t matter? Papal infallibility doesn’t matter? Congregational polity doesn’t matter? Social engagement doesn’t matter? Welcoming hospitality and openness doesn’t matter? If it matters, then isn’t advertising that “There is NO wrong answer to the question (of which church to attend)” kinda like bait and switch? Or, is this really a reflection of an uncomfortable fact – most folks in the pew of mainline churches don’t know and, frankly my dear, don’t care what makes them distinct from any other Christian body?
- the ad is reminiscent of an earlier theme in church advertising – “Worship at the church of your choice this Sunday”. As I recall, though, that wasn’t so much a church ad campaign as it was a secular “public service announcement” thing. That was back in the day when the secular society saw the church as something to buttress the status quo, rather than to question the status quo. So what church you went to didn’t matter, just go to the church of your choice – any church will do.
- Becoming part of a church community is a process and takes a while. So, like dating, you have to start with a whole lot that you don’t know but will learn. Still, would we want to say “Pick a spouse, any spouse”?