Submergent Church Spoof

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>Ok, so the Submergent Church piece that ran in the Christian Century recently was a spoof – as evidenced by this explanatory note that was printed in a more recent issue. The editors/writers thought the humor would be apparent and the implausibility of such a story obvious. For many, including myself, it wasn’t – which doesn’t mean I wasn’t laughing as I read it – I just took it as all too plausible in today’s context of worship experimentation and postmodern evangelism.

For CC spoofs to come, I have some unsolicited advice: pick something that is less believable. Even as I offer that advice, I recognize it is a trap for every potential parody and satirical piece they may want to run. Why? Because one of the distinguishing marks in our postmodern context is that anything goes – and I do mean ANYTHING.

Take some of the main points in this story:

A pastor named Bunglebottom? (Ok, maybe a little stretch, but not any more than a real life person I know who was recently incarcerated. Their name? … Innocente.)

A preacher who drinks beer, eats chips, and watches Dancing with the Stars as part of their work week, justifying it as ministry? (another plausibility check – though some would likely prefer to channel surf over to ESPN instead).

A pastor/preacher who can raise money for buildings while doing nothing that constitutes ministry on the ground with the poor, the stranger, or the alien? (again, another plausibility check – has no one looked closely at television ministries lately?)

A church that is not advertised and that blindfolds visitors and drives them through town before letting them come in? (check again – if this is obviously implausible, it shares space with real life churches that snake handle or brand themselves with the number 666)

A person who gives people what they want for less than 15 minutes a week on Sunday mornings? (check again – I know a local “minster” who mails “anointed hankies” that promise to bring blessings and answered prayers to anyone willing to place it under their mattress. He advertises on the local gospel station every Sunday morning on my way to worship. I don’t think his “congregation” has to show up at all, just mail in their checks!)

Maybe the point I am making here is that today’s context has rendered us “spoofless” – in part because there is nothing outside the realm of possibility in the church anymore, including the most outrageous and the utterly ridiculous.

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