A confession needs to be made. And it might not go over all too well, but it needs to be made nonetheless. So, brace yourselves.
I've done a lot of research on non-denominational churches. Like, a lot. And not as in "I had this report to do for a class in school" research. As in, "I was looking into a serious life change involving a change of place of worship".
I hinted at this back in July. That was around the peak of my research efforts. And have I reached a verdict? Umm...not really. I will say that I have no immediate plans to change and am still praying and carefully considering what all such a change would entail. In fact, when I (hopefully) move back to St.Louis in January, I plan on initially attending the church my best friend's parents pastor, like I did when I was at Gateway and it is, in fact, a UPCI church. It's a small church, they need help, and as crazy as things can be there, I came to love it (usually) while I was there. From there, things will be played by ear or, to use a pulpit cliche, as the Spirit so moves me.
So, why am I confessing this now?
Well, first of all, confession is good for the soul and I have nothing to hide from both of you that read this, so there's that. And second...well...that requires some explanation of why I started looking into a change to begin with.
Today, someone on my Facebook newsfeed posted a picture, It featured a megachurch sanctuary with a tagline that read, "Megachurch: Because this is more important than feeding the starving." Actually...here's the picture:
When I was doing my research, a lot of the churches I came across could be considered to be megachurches. Such places of worship have become something of a phenomenon in the Christian movement and, within some smaller church sects, somewhat taboo. A lot of people have accused these churches of "selling" the Gospel and have said that some of their methods can be considered disrespectful. For example, in St.Louis, on Saturday evenings, some of my friends in the student body at Gateway would attend The Journey, one of the more notable of these churches. I never got a chance to attend myself, but from what I had heard, the church took a casual approach, focused on a more teaching-based method of delivery. One of my friends came back with a Message translation Bible (my personal favorite translation for daily reading) which had been provided at no cost and she said that there had been a coffee shop outside of the sanctuary and many people had taken their beverages in with them to the service. So, yeah. Pretty dang chill.
And I'm so totally okay with that. It actually entrances me a little bit. Which, granted, is not necessarily a good thing. But rest assured, I will not choose my future church based on the presence of coffee and casual dress code. The church is Trinitarian and I am still firmly based in my Oneness beliefs, so that would more than likely be a no-go for me.
But here's the thing that absolutely sells me on these big churches. (Disclaimer: This is my personal taste and should not be taken as a slam on smaller churches in any way, shape, or form.) These churches, because of their massive size, have the means to make a huge difference in their communities, as well as in the way of Global Missions. And not only do they have the means to do this, but they actually DO make a difference. Regardless of what catchy phrase people want to post on an internet picture to disparage these large churches, the simple fact is that a bigger facility does not necessarily mean that help isn't being given to those who need it. It's not that a big congregation or a big building is more important than helping the hungry. Actually, these big congregations and buildings facilitate a great deal of help for those who need it most. Many of these churches possess things like food banks, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens. Many of these megachurches identify themselves as "missional" meaning that they cut back on some expenses in order to provide opportunities not only for domestic help, but for help overseas as well, which, hippie humanitarian wannabe that I am, is a huge plus.
Here's the thing to keep in mind. Another congregation having a different viewpoint on how to spread the Gospel doesn't give us license to say that they don't care. If you haven't educated yourself on their efforts, don't perpetuate the myth. If they're preaching truth, caring about people, and enhancing their community, isn't that what matters?
Why nitpick the other things?