Monday, December 20, 2010

The gentrification of the Church

Recently, a lot of congregations, especially the "cutting edge" congregations with loud music and pastors in jeans, have been moving a lot of the congregational fellowship to social media. Twitter during services, and Facebook through the week. "Download our app."

Maybe it provides a way for more constant connection with the congregation - and especially the leadership. But is it also excluding poor people from fellowship? (Or even the elderly?)

If you have to own an iPhone to be a part of Christian fellowship, we're charging an entrance fee. Jesus overturned the tables in the temple because the establishment was making it too expensive for the poor to worship.

I'm not a technophobe, but the digital age has created barriers between humans, and created new challenges in creating meaningful human relationships. It is disguised in exactly the opposite. Technology is said to reinforce relationships, and we certainly know this is true because we have a number next to our "friends" list on Facebook. We know how many friends we have. We know what they're doing every day. But we don't really have friends if we're not sharing our lives with one another.

I've criticized the modern congregational service industry we've forced into people's lives every Sunday. It doesn't offer real relationships with the people sitting in the chairs next to you. It certainly doesn't create real relationship with the aristocracy of the congregational leadership. We're going in the wrong direction making worship bite-sized. We're offending the Gospel by making sanctification consumable.

Yet on top of this inhuman structure we call "church," we've added a digital layer only the tech-savvy participate in. We can't learn from our elders this way, because they barely know how to use a cellphone, let alone a Blackberry. They need help sending an email, and have no idea "there's an app for that."

The poor, if they have a mobile phone, use pre-paid services, and disposable phones. Their access to the internet is at libraries or internet cafes. And we're building technological walls around our congregations so that they cannot participate.

I've really had enough of the American church's history of white flight, class segregation, and special-interest groups. If the church does not fellowship with all people, of all races, all genders, all classes and backgrounds, the church is not fellowshipping at all.

Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

No comments: