Several (Michael Spencer and Kevin Hash, among others) have pointed out the interesting announcements that are coming from some of the high-profile megachurches in America: they are cancelling their worship services on Sunday, December 25! The internet is beginning to be abuzz about this. An article from the Lexington Herald-Leader states:
The list of closed congregations on Christmas Sunday reads like a who’s who of evangelical Protestantism: Willow Creek Community Church, the Chicago area’s largest congregation; Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich.; North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga.; and Fellowship Church near Dallas. (read the whole article or another article that quotes David Wells’ response)
One of my first responses is, Can We Do That? Obviously we can, but should we? The rationale being given by “megachurch officials” (don’t you love that designation?) is that the decision “just makes sense” in today’s hectic world. People are so busy. Lifestyles are so packed full of demands and presssures. Shutting down church on Christmas is just a way of giving people a break.
Of course, a question that begs to be asked is this: If this is sound thinking that is “family-friendly” in December, why not incorporate it at other times of the year? Easter tends to be a big family day for many folks. Perhaps churches should not meet that Sunday either. Then there is Super Bowl Sunday! It is getting harder and harder (so I hear) to make adequate preparations for the big game–and halftime shows!!–if 2 or 3 hours of the morning are taken up with church. Along with cancelling Sunday evening worship services that day, it would sure be convenient (read “family-friendly”) to cancel morning worship, as well. The same could be done for Independence Day, Memorial Day, President’s Day, Columbus Day, Armistice Day, Pearl Harbor Day (that’s today; rats! too late for this year), May Day, Cinco de Mayo, Immaculate Conception Day (tomorrow), Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, Flag Day, Thanksgiving and several others that I am sure simply escape my mind at the moment. In fact, if megachurch officials put their heads together, I bet they could come up with a schedule that would allow people to get by with attending Sunday worship services maybe only twice a year. Since Christmas and Easter are out, what about Halloween and April Fool’s Day (assuming, of course, that the witches and atheists won’t mind).
Ah, but here is the real dilemma that is raised by these December 25 cancellations: are the churches that are doing this banning or celebrating Christmas? It is very important that we know the answer to this question. Otherwise, how will we know whether to boycott or applaud them?