** DISCLAIMER: I am not advocating the canceling of church on a regular basis, and I strongly feel that the body is important to the growth of the individual. When I originally wrote this post, I was trying to present the other side of the issue to people who automatically thought ill of the churches that did cancel. If you want more explanation, please read the comments section. Thanks!
it seems as though everyone (well, in a church office anyway...) has an opinion on it, so i thought i'd post mine... feel free to post yours in the comments section.
with christmas falling on a sunday, several mega-churches have decided to cancel services, sparking national debate. (this is one of the numerous news articles on the subject.) these churches are being accused of going too far in trying to fit into "today's culture." my church is having services, and i will be there... both on christmas eve AND on christmas day... but i will certainly not criticize those who don't.
growing up, my family had several christmas-oriented traditions. some for christmas eve, some for christmas day. and though we always were flexible (like post-poning christmas eve events until my brother could make it up from fort benning on christmas morning), and things have changed over the years (3 spouses and 4 grandkids require such), these things will always remain a part of my perception of christmas. but this year... well, this year nothing is the same. why? because we all must be at church on christmas morning. now, don't get me wrong. i as well will be at church. if i had a family, i'm sure we would go to church. but my question to you is... why is it such a big deal? please don't even try to tell me that it's to "put Christ first." to me, that is nothing more than a christian cliche. i don't know, maybe it's just because of my perception as a pastor's kid... but to me, putting myself in the shoes of a parent- let alone a pastor's wife- getting the kids up and ready to go to church on Christmas morning doesn't demonstrate putting CHRIST first... it demonstrates putting CHURCH first. because gosh darnit, if the church doors are open, we'll be there. and even better, we'll probably be the ones there early to unlock them and stay late to lock them back up. i'm not saying we shouldn't go to church, i'm not saying there's anything wrong with having services, please don't misunderstand me. but what i am saying is that what happens in the home is a million times more important in the life of a child than being forced to go to church 18 times a week. the role my parents played in my faith was not because they exposed me to church, but because i saw them live it in their lives. if these churches want to cancel services to be with their family, let them.
npr also had an interesting brief report on it. i'll admit, they have some idiots speaking on both sides of the issue. (i think my personal favorite was the suggestion to have a "pajama service"- everyone wear pjs and bring their gifts TO CHURCH so everyone can open them at church together. are you kidding me??)
i think that throughout this whole debate, the best way i can sum it up is to agree with one of the pastors interviewed in the npr report. he serves at a church in colorado springs that IS having services... but he is obviously fed up with the fact that the whole thing has become such a big deal. regarding churches' decision to cancel- and the debate that ensued- his attitude is one i absolutely agree with: "the sky is not falling, the kingdom of God will move forward, and life will go on."
in the words of dr. stowell.... "amen, and amen."