Reading a recent column by the religion editor in the Charlotte Observer caused me to utter a “hmmph” response. Describing the large number of requests he receives from area newcomers looking for just the right church to attend that would fit their “requirements” I realized just how much “faith institutions” have changed. Statements about expecting a specific dress code for church attendance, day care facilities, music program, social gatherings, family programming, convenient service times, whether bibles are carried by all attendees, integrated congregations, social-action agenda, and of course ‘location-location-location’ caused me to just shake my head. Especially by one person not wanting a church “that is about ‘absolutes’ and being ‘saved’”.
(Jesus H. Christ, they don’t want a church, they need to join the YMCA! But wait, the lead story of the “Carolina Living” section sharing the front page with the religion article was subtitled- “At the Harris YMCA, nearly 26,000 members exercise mind, body and soul” So who needs a church?)
It crossed my mind that churches have gone through the same change as gas stations. Decades ago it was all about the ‘automobile’. You were on the road to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. Full service gas stations with mechanics able to repair just about anything were available everywhere. (except on Sundays when most were closed as I recall) If you were lucky they had a Tom’s or Lance cracker dispenser and a Coke machine. But now, walk into the “food mart” at any gas station and you can find almost enough supplies to provision your entire vacation. However, good luck finding someone to check your radiator or wiper-blades. The automobile used to be the “soul” of any trip but now that has shifted to being the driver and care must be taken to service his every need along the way. If the car does happen to break down you can always call AAA for last rites.