Monday, July 25, 2011
Have Church Will Travel...
In years gone by, it meant folding chairs, a temporary altar, and a lectern with perhaps a backdrop of some kind and a piano. Now the tent churches are a bit more high tech -- the chairs are cushier, the screen is for projection, the keyboard replaced the piano, the praise band brings their own instruments and sound system, the altar is gone in favor of a stage, and it all packs up into a 24 foot dual wheel trailer that you can haul to where you need to go. As long as their is a Starbucks on the way, you can get it set up and going in time for a 10 am praise-a-thon and still have time to lunch on a veggie sub and some pita chips...
Some years ago we hosted an Anglican mission looking for a permanent home. They stayed with us a while and were grateful for the old A-frame chapel. It was not a cathedral but we were reminded that "Anglicans don't do well in empty boxes..."
Now that same chapel hosts a very small Orthodox Mission that had to leave their digs on Ft. Campbell when their priest and Army Chaplain got orders. When they first arrived, they were also grateful for a more churchly home which was made even more churchly by the addition of many icons and a great deal of holy smoke.
It seems to me that many Lutheran missions are no longer looking for a churchly home and even when they get real estate it looks more like a warehouse or mall gathering space than the holy place where God's people meet Him in the means of grace. In fact, it is a surprise that stained glass craftsmen and others who trade in church appointments are still in business with the number of plain boxes with exposed guts that pass as churches today. They have become so comfortable with God in a U-haul or a tent that they no longer beg to build Him a home worthy of Him, a place where His glory dwells. This signals a great disconnect both with the Old Testament past and the early Christian history which evolved into sacred space in designated buildings as soon as legalities and resources were available.
Maybe I am just wrong or hopelessly tied to things or out of touch with modern reality, but I wonder if the detachment from sacred space does not created the dangerous situation of making the Pastor even more important to the journeying congregation on its way to a permanent home. Certainly the style of contemporary Christian worship and music elevates the stars into center stage a great deal more than even the most elaborate liturgy and ceremonial. Perhaps that is the goal... I guess I am not very missional, am I?