Imagine for a moment that you visited the museum district of a large city. Which museum would interest you the most? Some of the more appealing museums might include one for Children, or the Holocaust, or Fine Arts, or even Natural Science. But just across the street, you see a Church Museum. For just a moment, let’s envision what items would be found in a Church Museum.
Maybe you can think of some things that I have forgotten. Please send them to me with your comments. Well, here’s my list:
1. A Hymnbook – Though singing goes back to the Old Testament, and hymns were sung in the New Testament, hymns like we know can be traced to Ambrose of Milan about 380 AD. In 1640, the Puritans published the Bay Psalm book, which was one of the first true hymnbooks. Most churches have put their hymnbook in the Church Museum.
2. The piano and organ – With electronic instruments and prerecorded music, these two are no longer needed. So, load up your Hammond B-3 organ with its’ Leslie 3300 Rotary Speaker and head off to the Church Museum.
3. Steeple – Contemporary churches think they should look like a shopping mall, school, or a widget factory. Outward signs like a cross or steeple may inhibit some lovable rascals from coming through the doors. Put it in the Church Museum.
4. A Choir robe – The choir robe screams stodgy and old fashioned. Besides, few cool churches even have choirs anymore. Get with it! Jeans and flip-flops are adequate to get the Message across. Destination: Church Museum
5. Sunday School Attendance Board – Gone is the dramatic ritual of the Sunday School board. Sometime during the hymn singing, the revered Sunday School Superintendent would come down the center aisle holding the board. With the flair of Houdini, he would hang it on the platform wall for all to see. The rest of the service was happy or depressed depending on if attendance was more or less than last week. So, the board and Sunday School itself is headed to the Church Museum!
6. Sunday Night Evangelistic Miracle Service – Gone. The Methodists had it in the Church Museum long before the others. Now, evangelism and miracles are expected to occur during one of the multiple morning services, right after the singing and before the announcements.
7. School bus – Busing kids to church is no longer as popular since a church in one state lost the child abduction lawsuit for picking up kids in another state and transporting them across state lines. To the Church Museum you must go Mr. Bus.
8. Pews – One of the good changes to church is the sacred exchange of the hard-wooden pew for the plush-cushioned chair. Now if we can get them to recline like on airplanes, attendance will grow. The wooden pews are now in the Church Museum!
9. Fried chicken – Once the absolute number one mainstay of church pot-luck dinners, fried chicken has been replaced with quiche Lorraine and King Ranch casserole. When was the last time you actually fried a chicken?
Some other items in the Church Museum may include the Ditto and Mimeograph machine, stained glass windows, the massive wooden pulpit with steps, the rose on the organ for a newborn (no organ!), Hymn book racks (no hymnbooks), golf pencils without erasers, and the hand painted picture of a river scene used for the baptistry.
Do you think removing these items makes church a better place? Can you think of any other items that should be in the Church Museum?