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Does ‘Cinema Sunday’ count as church?

Does ‘Cinema Sunday’ count as church?

Dan Webster recently visited a Baltimore move theater that fosters a kind of fellowship through its “Cinema Sundays,” at which people gather on Sunday morning to watch a movie and then discuss its ethical and spiritual implications. He writes:

I saw community gather around bagels and coffee, a gospel story, and what some church people call a “dialogue sermon.”

As a church person, I am grateful to see so many people seeking food for body, mind and spirit. Maybe secular society is being influenced by church more than anyone is willing to admit.

One church friend who saw my Facebook check-in at the Charles Theater said she once called it, “church at St. Charles Cathedral.” That may be more than a clever observation. If people are finding inspiration, fellowship and nourishment in places like Cinema Sunday why would they want to put up with politics at a church community to get the same thing?

When I told the leadership of one congregation who, like many, is seeing declining Sunday participation, one person thought they should try their own version of Cinema Sunday.

Read his full post here. What do you think? Can churches make use of a similar model?

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Bill Ghrist

Well, it doesn’t seem quite Church to me, but maybe sufficient Inspiration, Fellowship, and Nourishment will eventually lead some folks to recognize a need for a more explicit relationship with God. And anyway, wasn’t it Jesus who said that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath?

Marshall Scott

Well, Gregory, that depends on what we mean by “worship.” And, as you suggest, it depends an awful lot on the intent of the people gathered. There have been recent stories of “Sunday Assemblies” (such as at http://www.npr.org/2014/01/07/260184473/sunday-assembly-a-church-for-the-godless-picks-up-steam). These folks do indeed gather for inspiration, fellowship, and nourishment, and they would be appalled at the thought that it might also be worship.

Gregory Orloff

Inspiration – check.

Fellowship – check.

Nourishment – check.

But what about worship? Or does the church no longer engage in worshipping God anymore?

While it’s good that people are getting “inspiration, fellowship and nourishment” (on their own terms, it seems), there doesn’t seem to be much focus on God and relating to him in this particular equation. It seems to be more about “me” and “meeting my needs.”

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