I never thought I would say this, especially not six years ago when I left my conservative Catholic church hoping to find someplace a little less formal and confining, but I’m afraid my new church is becoming too hip.
In the beginning, it was great. The non-denominational church was a refreshing change from the standing, kneeling, sitting, aerobic church of my youth. Gone were the skirts and ties. Kids showed up in cargo shorts and tennis shoes, adults in the golf clothes for the match they were playing after the service. That was O.K. That was just more COMFORTABLE.
The music was better too. The large clientele at the new church meant there were singing tryouts to be in the chorus. Gone were the bad cantors of my youth that threatened to shatter the stain-glassed windows on the high notes. Instead of hiding out up on the balcony, the singers were up on the stage where you could see them. That was great. That was just more ENJOYABLE.
Communion was simpler. Instead of having to walk up to the front and share the same germy goblet of wine with the rest of the congregation, the ushers passed out little plastic cups of grape juice and mini-saltines to each pew. That was great. That was just more EFFICIENT and HYGENIC.
The message was more meaningful. Spoken by our charismatic and (O.K. and I’ll say it) attractive pastor with a great sense of humor, the message (formerly known as the sermon) hit home and was something you could reflect on in order to try to make yourself a better person. That was great. That was just more ENTERTAINING.
But lately, in order to “bring the message” to the younger crowd, I think my church might be going a bit over the edge.
It started with the Coffeehouse. When the droves of people leaving their churches to come to this great new church could no longer fit in the sanctuary, they opened the doors of the giant meeting room on Sundays and advertised it as the answer for the “teen worshipers and their families.” The sermon was piped in and displayed on a giant screen. That was just so IMPERSONAL.
Next came the band. Kids like bands, right? I think that was the reason for the full set of drums and the electric guitars and the lyrics that kids were jamming to. That was just so LOUD.
The final straw for me was the coffee bar. I think the reasoning was: “Well. People get thirsty and sometimes in their hurry to get to worship, they forget to eat breakfast.” So now, right outside the door, you can pay a few bucks for a smoothie or a cup of coffee and a roll. And don’t be in a hurry. Bring them on in and sip them in comfort during the show. That is just so COMMERCIAL.
I’m headed back to the sanctuary where the more conservative service is held. I think I’ve gone a little too far to the left in order to combat the strict religion of my youth. But my girls are going to be mad. They are big fans of the mango smoothie.