The Local Church's Competition

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Our Real Competition is...

...the plethora of other activities that occur in our communities on any given Sunday.

Let's face it: we churches thought we should have a monopoly on Sunday. That thought was coddled by the so-called "blue laws" that kept businesses from being open on Sundays---ostensibly so that the employees and business owners could go worship. We were the only game in town, the only activity that people could do outside of their homes. We grew to think that was normal. It was not. It was an abnormality that flew in the face of reality.

This came to my realization in seminary, 44 years ago, when my wife and I took our dirty clothes down the street to the coin-operated laundromat on a Sunday afternoon, after worship, to wash our clothes on the only day of the week WE were off of work. It was closed: the city had "blue laws" that banned all but "essential" businesses from being open on Sunday. That was the day we went to the next town and washed our clothes. That was the day we realized that if we needed to do grocery shopping on the one day we didn't have to work, that was a necessity, not a sin.

Since then, youth activities, shopping malls, movie theaters, are all competing with us for outside-of-home activities on Sundays. Cable and Satellite Television compete for the attention of potential church attendees, 24/7. Our unwillingness to spend the money to offer anything but an extremely conservative version of the Christian faith on television, or radio, made that part of our competition. Our insistence on remaining with geographical "parishes" in a day when people all now live in non-geographical communities makes us part of our own competition!

Like every business in this country, we all have to live with competition. This is nothing new. What is both new and old is the fact that we thinks that because we are somehow representing God (or our particular theological understanding of God), we should be exempt from the realities that affect everyone else.

Isn't this a bit arrogant, on our part?

Tom Griffith more than 3 years ago

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