Seriously Seeking Mysteries
Louis R. Tarsitano on Seekers, Liturgy & Baseball
I have a very dear friend who has attended Willow Creek Church for years, and he has never moved much beyond his original attraction: a jolly good religious show that does not require him to do anything “demeaning,” such as worship or getting too involved with the other members of the audience. When one of my children was visiting his family, they tried to attend a Saturday evening service. Since, however, only a few hundred people showed up, the service was cancelled as impractical for so small a group.
I recognize that my sample is a small one, but I have read carefully the literature from Willow Creek that my friend has provided. My conclusion is that Bill Hybels has reinvented and repackaged suburban “churchianity” in a big way, and unabashedly so. He has managed to banish—along with the cross, a supposed “downer” for “seekers”—those bits of Christianity that many people in my own suburban church experience considered grit in an otherwise well-oiled ecclesiastical machine. Again, my sample of churches may be too small, but even 25 years ago people were advising me that if the Church could only get rid of gloomy and annoying stuff like sin and redemption, then the Church would be much more popular and successful.
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Louis R. Tarsitano (d. 2005), a former associate editor of Touchstone, was a priest of the Anglican Church in America and rector of St. Andrew?s Church in Savannah, Georgia. He also was the co-author, with Peter Toon, of Neither Archaic Nor Obsolete: The Language of Common Prayer & Public Worship (Brynmill Press, Ltd., 2003).
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