Friday, December 09, 2005

Time Magazine presents "The Fight Before Christmas"

Who needs Nativity plays with this kind of drama?
Christian blogs are full of unseasonably vitriolic postings, full of Scriptural references, theological arguments and appeals to common sense. Evangelicals are attacking other Evangelicals in the media. And the debate within the Evangelical community is giving the rest of America a rare look at the divisions that do exist, usually quietly and below the surface, of the 65-million-strong Evangelical community. It is a reminder that this group, so often labeled the "religious right", is diverse both in theology and methodology. The church is in fact many churches, this bloc is no monolith, and this argument, says Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, "shows we're still all very human."
Ben Witherington III reprises his roll as "Prophet to a Wicked and Depraved Generation."

"The church is supposed to be brothers and sisters in Christ—the primary family. These churches are putting the wants and needs of the physical family first, not that spiritual family," says Ben Witherington, a theologian at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky. "Our society is narcissistic enough. We don't need to encourage more me-focused behavior."

Bill Hybels arrises to defend his church!
The last time Christmas fell on a Sunday was in 1994. Leaders at Willow Creek Community Church, a congregation in the affluent Chicago suburbs where about 15,000 people worship each weekend, said that attendance wasn't great. This year, they decided to try "an experiment in decentralizing the congregation on Christmas morning," says senior pastor Bill Hybels...."In our community, people—particularly seekers who may not normally attend church—are more like to go to Christmas services in the days preceding Christmas with their friends who invite them," says Hybels. This strategy leaves them "free to celebrate Christmas day as they so choose."
These congregations have not canceled Christmas. Willow Creek will have eight services in the five days before Christmas Sunday, with up to 60,000 expected to attend. According to Hybels, worshippers at those services will receive DVDs, which they will be encouraged to watch on Christmas Day with their families. The message: "God is with us everywhere."
""The central point is not what hour of what day the congregation gathers corporately to celebrate the birth of Christ," says Willow Creek's Hybels, "but rather that in our hearts and lives we allow the coming of Christ to transform us."

Ted Haggart steps in as "Wise and Kindly Peacemaker."

his church "would never not have church on a Sunday. Christians have been doing it for 2,000 years." At the same time, he says, Willow Creek is showing the creativity and innovation for which it and Hybels have long been known. "Willow Creek is communicating that we're in an era when the church meets in a variety of ways," Haggard says. "This is what makes American Evangelicalism so great. We're so diverse. The meaning of Christmas is more important than the church service itself. The message is more important than the method."

and the Rev. Louie Marsh just shakes his head as "Humble Witness."
"I do know [that] this isn't something we should be fighting about," Marsh
blogged. "Let's just focus on serving God the best we can."


Crystal said...

Thanks for posting this Kim; it literally brought tears to my eyes. I have never been more proud of our church.

=`) <-- my happy tear

Kim Traynor said...

Hmmm, that's not exactly the response I have when I read this stuff, but I am at least proud that Bill, Gene, Mark and Cally have had the guts to get out there and defend a decision the church had a right to make when it appears that every other church that made this decision has gone into hiding.

Crystal said...

I just felt overwhelmed yesterday because I have been reading about this on a lot of blogs and have just been disappointed in some of them. Also yesterday was a pretty hard day for me and I cry easily.

This is the part that got me teary,

The message: "God is with us everywhere."
""The central point is not what hour of what day the congregation gathers corporately to celebrate the birth of Christ," says Willow Creek's Hybels, "but rather that in our hearts and lives we allow the coming of Christ to transform us."

It's exactly how I feel and I am proud to go to a Church that gets it. That's all. =)

Kim Traynor said...

I hear you! I'm incredibly frustrated too, the back lash is on the magnitude of a certain-political-figure-who-shall-remain-unnamed-incident, but at least then I felt we were somewhat to blame. But this is just goofy! The fact that we haven't done anything wrong and are getting this kind of crap shows that there really is some seething hostility out there toward big churches.

By the way, how was the dance recital? Did you guys go see Narnia? I saw it with Mom and she slept through most of it! She said she liked what she saw though :)

By the way, I like your new picture, (I thought you were Jamie at first!)

Crystal said...

Oh that is funny that you thought I was Jami! It must be the glasses, which I wear for Scott and because I need to order new contacts.

Anyways, we did not go see Narnia, LONG story. I called and left a message with Steph at work so she can fill you in. Then you will see why I had a hard day yesterday. I want to blog about it but it's just so much work.

Emily was amazing at the ballet show (The Nutcracker). I am so proud of her!!

I really am sad we didn't get to hang out this week. It's one of my favorite times of the week.

It is sad about all of the hate going on with "megachurchs". My heart and head hurts. *heavy sigh* Like Steph said "can't we all just get along!"

Maddie is poopy so I gots to go! I am so glad you are back to blogging, you always post the most interesting (a good interesting) things!

Friar Tuck said...

You seem to be getting pretty wound up in this. That is understandable because:

a. your church is involved

b. you root for your church like most people root for their favorite sports team

Personally, I dont see the big deal either way.