From Matthew Hall’s blog. The Southern Baptist Convention have created 1700 “affinity churches” including the “Happy Trails Cowboy Church” (uhhh). Their idea is to build a church with a theme, then when people who like that theme hear about it, they will go to that church. They got golf churches, blue grass enthusiasts, and members of Generation X, however the more popular are the Cowboy and Biker churches.
Overall this is a bad idea. Why? While I hear and understand their intent, the Church already has a theme. It doesn’t need a gimmick to draw people in. The Church is the Bride of Christ and it is the gathering of the Saints. Of course we have themes that we bring into the church, I just think when it’s the obvious intention it becomes problematic and distracting. Surely like-minded people will go to the same church. But making the whole church a common theme becomes exclusive and then most tragically one of the biggest distinctions of Christianity is lost. The melting pot of Christianity is what makes it beautiful, when we make churches with themes that try to distinguish and attract we end up excluding those who aren’t.
What should attract people to church is that the church proclaims the Gospel and teaches Scripture. The attraction is Jesus not finding our niche in it. This would be one of my hesitancies for also having churches named after ethic groups unless that is the only language that church speaks.