Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wandering Part 2

Still visiting various churches. It takes a while to get through the non-Baptist non-Pentacostal Protestant churches, even if you can eliminate some by listening to online sermons and perusing their websites.

Ah, websites. Here's what I've learned about churches from their websites over the last few months:

A. If the website is painful to look at (or absent), that means either they don't trust "outsiders" or they're too penny-wise and pound-foolish to pay for someone to create a good one - neither of which bode well for the function of the rest of the organization. For example, the website of the church that I grew up in is absolutely horrific. (Identifying marks changed/obscured to protect the innocent).

Painful pink/red links on a blue background with poorly aligned, pixelated graphics, uber-patriotic animated .gifs... *shudder* Enough said.

B. If your pastor is pictured on your website like this:

or this...

...I'm not interested. Perhaps I'm the one with the problem, but I can't take these people seriously.

C. If one of the main links on your homepage is "How to donate"...

...that's a great big red flag. Especially when there isn't a link to "what we believe" anywhere nearby.

D. If your website doesn't even have a doctrinal statement, and in its place are paragraphs with a lot of buzzwords like "inclusion", "journey", and "affirmation", then I'm not interested. If I merely wanted a social club, I wouldn't be searching under "church", now would I. (Not that I necessarily have a problem with those words, but those should grow from your understanding of God - ie doctrine - not be a replacement for it.)

E. And speaking of doctrinal statements, from Episcopalian to Lutheran to Baptist to Evangelical to Pentecostal (and fine, even Catholics), we mostly all believe in the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the Trinity, the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, original sin, and salvation through Jesus Christ alone. As someone who grew up being taught that everyone outside of Independent Fundamental Baptists were heretics and didn't believe the Bible, I'm amazed at the amount of Very Important Doctrine that we share.

F. The order of doctrinal statements likely says something too. Most doctrinal statements start with God, and if the first doctrinal statement trumpets a version of the Bible, they've just told me what they value more than God Himself. I even had a friend recently point out to me that starting with beliefs about Scripture is potentially troublesome, because we should start with God. Scripture comes from God, not the other way around.

So, in our journey so far, we've visited a couple of Presbyterian churches, an Episcopal church, and a Lutheran church. My favorite? Well, that should probably be a separate post in and of itself.

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