Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Charismatic Credit Card Machine

My family and I attended a Pentecostal fellowship located near our home last sunday. One thing synonymous with Pentecostal churches is dancing or as a friend of mine once called it "the Pentecostal two-step". I know this is not everyones cup of tea but I don't think it is an issue worth arguing over.

Ironically, dancing almost got banned at my wedding by a faction of old timers from the Pentecostal tradition. A tense stand-off brewed as we faced the very real prospect of some cessationalists being forbidden from dancing! I can still remember from my early days as a Christian being told (tongue in cheek) by a Pentecostal preacher that he didn't believe in pre-marital sex because it might lead to dancing. Though I jest, I think the issue has very much to do with the idea that one form is dancing before the Lord while the other is dancing with the opposite sex - at least I thought so until my pastor banned me from doing the "moonwalk".

But the "Pentecostal two-step" is a dance that has been sanctioned by the movement. I have always contended, however, that church members should be required to show proof of their ability to do the "two step" without impeding the "hand raising" gestures of others before they kick up their heels in a public gathering.

All of these memories came flooding back last sunday when I realised that they had installed a credit card facility in the meeting hall. I was actually seated two rows behind the machine as I witnessed the surreal images during offering time (music playing) of people lining up in front of the machine with credit card in hand all the while doing the "two step". I then watched with amazement as people managed to coordinate operating the machine and doing the "two step" at the same time. This feat was simply beyond my athletic ability so I opted for the far less hazardous "money in the bucket" method.

But on a deeper level I must confess to cringing as I witnessed these goings on. The idea of the machine in the church building bothered me and I don't know why, perhaps it seemed irreverent. Maybe I'm getting old fashioned and should start a modernised Amish community with VHS players and Analogue TV. Is it me who has the problem here or is there something wrong that I can't put my finger on. Please comment on this - I want to hear your thoughts


dave benson said...

nicely described ... I can see the conga line like I was there. Incidentally a conga line (thankfully for the children) started in our Pentecostal church a few weeks ago. I wanted to get to the first time churchgoers I met before the service and explain, but words failed me--not to mention I would have had to break the "snake" to reach them!
mmm ... debit giving seems okay (though I'm still a fan of cash) ... but credit-card giving? It seems to encourage people going into debt, which is no longer (in essence) giving of what is theirs. Sits uncomfortably with me too. Good question :)

Apeleutheros said...

It sounds a little creepy to me. I don't think I could stomach it. Not only does the card swiping bother me, which just seems so wrong, but such an open display of ones giving ( and doing the two-step to boot) condradicts the words of Christ (Matt6:1-4). I attended a "revival" meeting once where the evangelist told people to take their offering and wave it in the air like a wave offering as they carried it up front and placed it in the basket... it was disturbing.