My denomination seems to be in the midst of a building boom, though likely current circumstances may slow that trend. It is a natural outgrowth of our way of "doing church," which is mostly find a nice, affluent suburban --or hip, trendy college, or eclectic, regentrifying city--neighborhood, and put a church there.
Then, having attracted a well-heeled clientele, set out to wow them with architecture and accouterments. Whether a massive traditional structure with a roaring pipe organ and stained glass, or a modern theatre-style with the latest in video and sound technology, our church life is expensive --but we have the people to pay for it.
And, we can justify it all, too. As was said to me at a recent (not my) presbytery committee meeting, "The rich need Jesus too." Now, that was not the subject for debate. Everybody needs Jesus. That's kind of a given, right? The subject for debate seemed to be whether the poor needed Jesus. IT seems to me that Presbyterians, in defiance of our history, have decided it is our mission from God to reach affluent, well-educated types. Please. Don't we think well of ourselves?
Difficult words to say. My own church is affluent, and well-educated, though our building, while large, is hardly ornate or attractive in and of itself, nor is it in a desirable demographic. I love majestic church buildings, grand organs. I even love some contemporary worship, if the content of the songs and sermons are meaty. So, I point this arrow at my own heart, too.
I realize all of this could sound like spiritual pride, and I am certainly not immune to pride (no-one is), but I wonder if the joy and excitement of actually reaching the lost and ministering to the hurting (real kingdom work) has passed Presbyterianism by not because we are not culturally accommodated enough, but precisely because we are too culturally accommodated. Not in terms of seeker-friendly worship or a vacuous, feel-good message, but simply because we have made peace with materialism. The American dream and the Christian dream have melded in our thinking. We think and strategize and plan, but maybe we have missed the main thing --Jesus cared about those who had nothing in this world and put them first on his list. The outcast, the notorious sinner, the self-degraded, the fatherless and widow, etc etc.
These are not the people in our Presbyterian churches. Why not? We have lost the ethos of our founders --evangelical Christianity always found far more fertile fields among the meek and lowly than it did in the halls of power. INdeed, when Presbyterianism grew popular and wealthy, it soon lost its Biblical fire. We have tried to find a way to retain the BIblical fire WHILE being prosperous. I am starting to doubt that is an option given to us in God's Word.
May he save us from ourselves. May the harvest not pass us by. May he make us a tool of mercy in his hand.