The Gig had a farewell for us two weeks ago, because we were supposed to be living and working in Stratford by now. As we had said all our goodbyes we felt a little strange going there on Sunday morning and also thought it would be a great chance to check out another church community in Kitchener. So we decided to check out The Meeting House. I thought maybe I would post on my thoughts about my first time being a part of their Sunday morning gathering. First I have to say is was good to see so many familiar faces - looking over the staff list there are a lot of friends from the past (even an old roommate) - I think that they are all striving to do good work so I hope my criticism is not taken as an attack on what they are doing, more this is my analysis of how I think they are heading in the wrong direction.
First, the things that thought were good. The elements were all very good - worship music and presentation. It's all very coordinated and smooth. Bruxy Cavey was on his usual game as an excellent laid back teacher. I can see why people come out, the product is very good.
So what is my problem? well if you read my last post or have been following my thoughts on technology and the church you would know that I'm trying to look at the bigger issues than just what happen on the Sunday morning. One of the problems with the video venue is what it is saying (this is a medium is the message type thing) about who can speak to the church. Bruxy is an amazing speaker - no contest. But the meeting house just keeps adding sites. When you look at everything else, the meeting house is just about the same as many other churches, except they all watch the big screen to see a common message. So if you extrapolate the vision or goal - eventually you would have a Meeting house in every city or town. Or maybe the end expansion would (or should) be that every church is a video extension of Bruxy's teaching. I'm not saying the Bruxy shouldn't teach a lot of poeple, but what does it say when we enforce a message that only one voice is good enough to teach? Is there no person in all of the Golden Horeshoe or Western Ontario (and coming to Ottawa) that is a good enough speaker to teach the public? I think people would deny this as a statement, but you have to see this is what the "medium" is sending as a message.
What if Bruxy isn't the best teacher - what if say Rob Bell is a better speaker? The Meeting House had defined its existence on transmitting the best teacher they can find. Maybe they would have better results if someone else what the teacher and we could double the churches because someone like Rob Bell would draw more people (sort of sound like celebrity doesn't it?) do the people that come out care about who as long as it is deemed good? The motion is towards all sites digesting whatever come on the screen as truth. Whatever the Great OZ says is truth. There is the potential for the thing to get so big that only those at the top really have any control over what is said or preached. Right now, I assume there are good checks and balances in place, but how big does it get to be out of control? What if no one thinks it is out of control?
I'm not saying that the Meeting House has no checks and balances. I'm not saying that the teaching is wrong, all I'm saying is that they seem to think that growth by more sites is unlimitedly good (we cheered a new satellite location) But is this the type of growth that is good for the church? That we all tune in for directions? I think this is what the Protestant reformation was all about. Rome told people what their religion was about and they did not have a voice. I think the Meeting House model moves the average person in community farther away from having a voice or being a part of conversation.
I believe more and more in raising up new leaders, can you do this in a model where only the very best is heard? Is there room for learning and training - especially if you expand the method to it's extreme?
I hope that the Meeting House is making a difference in the community. I hope lives are change and Jesus is the centre. I also hope it doesn't ever go where I think it could.