I guess we’ve all wondered what non-Christians, unaccompanied by their Christian friends, really think about church. Christian talk show host Drew Marshall has paid two college students, one male and one female, to attend five different churches in the Toronto area and then report on their observations. The results are being blogged here.
I picked this up via this post at Christianity Today blog Out of Ur which is well worth a read.
One of the main issues that emerges is the way resources are used – either to create a spectacular Sunday experience or to offer help to the poor. It was the 35 strong Sanctuary church, ministering to the poor and homeless, that made the greatest impact on the researchers who struggled with the razzmatazz of the mega-churches.
These experiments are interesting, and we should reflect wisely on how we look to ‘outsiders’. But I wonder how much they really tell us about what attracts people to church. If the thoughts of the two researchers are typical, the practical, outward loooking churches that spend themselves relentlessly on the poor should be growing apace while the glossy leisure centre style mega churches should be fading away. I’m not sure that’s what’s actually happening.