Friday, March 18, 2005

Purging the herd

Thanks to SmartChristian for linking to this article on "purge Sundays" at The Meeting House, a four-location congregation in Ontario. Faced with explosive growth in attendance, the preacher at The Meeting House gives an occasional "purge sermon" to separate the disciples from the tourists:
Teaching pastor Bruxy Cavey admits "purge Sundays" were his idea. "Evangelical Christians can be a trendy bunch, always looking for the good deal and where the action is," he explains. "The more we have grown as a church, the more we have attracted tourists who come to check us out and will attend for some time, but never consider The Meeting House their home church. We don't think that's healthy for them -- to be a voyeur on church life, rather than a healthy, active, committed participant in church life.

"So we started to ask them to leave."
Once or twice a year Mr. Cavey preaches a "purge sermon" outlining what real Christian discipleship looks like, and then asking those in attendance to either walk the walk or take a hike to a church where they can.

I don't plan to be quite so pointed in my preaching, but there is a pretty strong New Testament example for doing so. Have you ever noticed how Jesus often saved his most difficult teachings for those times when the crowds around him were largest? See, for example, Lk. 14:25-35 and Jn. 6:22-66. At the end of his ministry the people of Jerusalem welcomed him in triumph, and he responded by giving hard teaching and throwing things around in the Temple. More to the point, he went from the fame of the crowd to the shame of the cross. That thinned the crowds all right.


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