It’s been a couple of weeks since the last post looking at Stanley Hauerwas and the idea of slow church. This is the third post in the series. The first post was on prayer. The second was on practicing presence. In this video Hauerwas addresses a couple of aspects related to the Church Growth Movement, and how they work not only to keep us from true discipleships, but also how in the end they contribute to the decline of the church.
The main disagreement Hauerwas has with the Church Growth Movement is how it produces congregations that are homogeneous, particularly, in Hauerwas’s view as it relates to age. We could also add socio-economic and often ethnic background as well.
All of this is not to say that growth is a bad thing. After all, parishes are living organisms, and all organisms that don’t grow begin to die. However, the Church Growth Movement tends to view growth as that which is measured best in the number of people in attendance on Sundays and the amount of offering in the basket.
As a result, churches following the strategies of the Church Growth Movement place an emphasis on entertainment in the liturgy. Two things happen as a result of this. One the people no longer are participating in the worship, particularly the prayer life of the church. Two, when it comes to entertainment, television, and one might add movies and the internet, can do it much better than the church.
Questions for Church Growth Movement:
How do you find that the liturgy helps to prepare you for life once you leave the confines of the gathered community? If your answer is that it doesn’t, what part of the liturgy should be strengthened? Or, conversely, if perhaps you haven’t given much thought to the liturgy, what new insights might come from thinking of it as preparation or training for life outside the confines of the parish family?
If as a parish St. Philip’s or whatever church family you are part of were to pursue growth in an organic fashion, how do you think this might effect the way in which we worship together?
Hauerwas uses the example of digging a ditch to spread the flow of water, as what is meant by liturgy. Are there ditches parishes could dig that would help the water of life given to us in and by Christ flow out to the rest of the world?