Thursday, 7 April 2016

And the First Shall be Last

In an otherwise enjoyable rant on personality cult in the evangelical church, a couple of things struck me that I disagreed with.

The first is that there being 41,000 Christian denominations seems to me a good thing. We should have more. Diversity and difference are worth celebrating. Yes, let's be charitable. But we tried having just one denomination, and it proved impracticable. The arrangement only lasted 1,000 years or so.

And the second is this paragraph:
Drive by many Evangelical churches these days and what do you see on the church sign? Almost every sign will have the pastor’s name prominently displayed. Why is this important? Why is it necessary to advertise the name of the pastor? If the church is one body worshiping the one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, why call attention to the identity of the pastor? Why don’t churches put the names of the poorest church members on their signs as James suggests in James 2:1-4.

 If churches put the names of their poorest members on their notice boards, as Bruce Gerencser suggests, then they'd embarrass them. They'd be tipping off the neighborhood loan sharks as to where a good new customer might be found.

Also, one good reason for putting the pastor's name on the notice board is because they're often the point of contact. If you're looking for someone to conduct your wedding, Maybelline at the nursing home is almost certainly not licensed to conduct it. She may not know all the church group leaders, or have their contact numbers. If you phone her up at 4am because little Johnny's gone into hospital with his appendix, she may not be able to get up there to support him. She may not appreciate dozens of phone calls a day from people wanting to arrange funerals, Bible salespeople and people who think her sermon on John 1 was binitarian.

And then what happens if another poor person joins? Do you have to have a poor-off to see who has the most poverty? Do you put them both up? What if Maybelline's rich brother dies and leaves her his mansion in Berkshire? Do you ceremonially spray over her name, and then tell everyone to bring their bank statements to church so you can appoint the new poorest person?

In any case, I presume Mr Gerencser is of the American persuasion. As if he were English, he'd know that the answer in some parts of the Church of England to the question "Why don't you put the poorest person in the Church on the notice board?" Would be - "we have."


  1. Ah, but you'd have to have categories, such as Poor in Spirit, Poor Financially, Follically Poor, etc.

  2. Our pastor's name is on the outside noticeboards... in 12pt Times New Roman.

  3. Thanks for the mention. American culture is dominated by Evangelical Christianity. In many churches, it is all about the man standing behind the pulpit. The current megachurch craze has made things worse. These big shot preachers are treated like rock stars.


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