December 17, 2017

Riffs: 12:23:06: “We’ve quit going to church.”

logo3.gifBrant Hanson and family are done with the church.

You could have seen it coming.

Further reading in the comment threads will reveal a switch to the kind of Christian community that many are exploring in house groups, stripped down and simplified fellowships, and informal networks of like-minded, de-megachurched families and individuals.

I don’t read Brant’s blog enough to know all that much about his journey, but I will tell you a few things I do know:

1) This is the essence of the post-evangelical impulse, and the getting off point for thousands of people is going to be the full service megachurch.

2) This is what thousands- perhaps one day, millions- of Christians will do for their own spiritual survival and the welfare of their own families.

3) Brant’s post hints at what I believe is the other side of the coin: the organizing of church around missionalized concerns, rather than the existence of the church with missionalized concerns as “extras.”

4) At the core of Brant’s turning away from the church is the failure of leadership to be shepherds of Jesus Christ, but to instead become entrepreneurs and shop-keepers, treating their congregations like flocks of consumers to be led into further consumption of church produced, church centered goods and services.

Is this the end toward which a post-evangelical Christian is working? The deconstruction of the church? The end of the ministry? Christianity as a movement without institutional expression?

Not for me. I believe, however, that the end will include a shift from institutionalism and its values to an informal, networked movement. Neither will be free from the corruption of evangelical culture, but we must begin to see past the megachurch, my friends. We must begin to see past what it is that Brant is walking away from toward what he is walking to.

While you are rethinking these things, read my compatriot Bill Kinnon’s outstanding posts on “Marketing the Church.” All good, and Bill is one of us on the journey away from one thing and toward another.

Comments

  1. I was baptized at my town’s megachurch, but have since left years ago. It just bought an old shopping mall and moved its auditorium into where the J.C. Penney’s used to be, turning the common walkway area into an upscale cafe. But plenty of the other shops are still inside. Why not? The church has self-serve coffee kiosks every 20 feet and you sign your kid into the children’s program at one of several counters that look suspiciouly like checkout lanes. The funny thing is, the pagans here think the whole concept is weird too. ‘Cuz it is.

  2. I think the ultimate trajectory of these folks might end up being RC or EO — look at the experience of Peter Gilquist and his bunch back in the 70’s. They went from house church to ‘NT church’ to EO.

  3. joel7, the evangelical church I belong to isn’t “mega,” but I’m also one of those who’s in flux theologically. We have a small church worship group within our church that is very similar to the house/simple churches that are forming all over. In addition to RC/EO, some of us want to stay on the protestant side of the reformation. With that, you may find an Anglican contingent, too.

  4. I see what Brant Hanson is getting at with his post, but if he hasn’t “forsaken the assembly” and he’s still meeting with other believers, then he really hasn’t quit going to church. He’s going to a different church. He just says he quit going to church for inflammatory effect or some similar reason.

  5. Can’t fault your analysis. We did the same as Brant in 1995, for similar reasons by the sound of it.