Monday, July 13, 2009

Houston, We Have Dysfunction

There are some things I miss about my adopted hometown. Immediate access to real Tex-Mex and good seafood come to mind.
I don't miss the heat. At all. I actually thought Nashville was reaching Houston levels of heat and humidity this summer; it's the worst summer I remember in my 12 years in Middle Tennessee. Then I came to visit Houston again. Nope. This heat and humidity is unreal. It's gross. It's ridiculous. I don't miss this at all.

Another thing I don't miss -- and I always forget about this -- is how fixated on size Houstonians seem to be. I've been here 4 days and have had countless conversations already with people where the size of churches has been the topic. Yes, I see your churches. They are big. Congratulations.

This is how way too many Christians measure success here. How big is it?
It's not even this bad in Nashville, where the megachurch reigns too. They like churches big and product-providing in Tennessee, but they aren't just so out there about it. It comes up in nearly every conversation I've had here in Houston. Is it a Texas thing?

And this isn't about how many are in my church back home. Nobody has asked me that. They just keep asking about other churches here, churches of friends. They're talking about their own churches. They're referencing churches around town. And it's all about size.

If you're in a small (or smaller) church here, you're cute. It's neat or nice that you do church. You're "hanging in there," as if running 150 means you're on the verge of death. (eyeroll)

Anybody in/from Houston have some kind of insight on why this is?


Eric said...

I live in Houston. I love Houston. I'm an assistant pastor in a PCA church. What you're describing has infected everything here.

I think a lot of it is just a combination of big business + western revivalism (as in the heritage of the circuit riders, etc.).

Houston is the ultimate free market town. No zoning, low taxes, the market decides everything. And since we know the market is always right, we've imported it into church as well.

Jim H. said...

I was going to agree with you...but about DALLAS! I was actually encouraged when I visited Houston last November. Spent some time at Eccelesia Church, which is an impressive place, and the good news is...they are planting churches and have no intention of becoming mega.

As a native Texan, I confess there is something about the "everything is bigger" bit. Seriously, Houston has no zoning laws, so you can throw up any size monster building you can afford.

It certainly doesn't help when you've got smiley boy buying the building the Rockets once played in! That kind of thinking goes way back. When I was a kid, I remember going to his dad's church, and it was gigantic. The mentality still prevails that if the Lord is blessing you, he will bless with a big building.

But as my Baptist seminary buddy shared with me, you never know what might happen. You may be praying for a big church and small wife, and he just might decide to bless you with a big wife and a small church!

btw...just found your blog after reading you excellent piece on SAHD's and the Church. It was very helpful to me, as I've really been struggling with my circumstances lately.

David Rudd said...

'cuz God blest Texas...

(and no one else!)

Bill said...

About the heat - I will say that this July has been unbearable - hotter than I remember for awhile. Last year seemed relatively mild. This has been a killer.

I have no answer on the size thing. I don't hear that question very much, but maybe I just think I don't because it's background noise or something. I dunno. Points to an improper measure of "success", though.

God-bless the small-church pastor. They are heroes.

Andrew said...

In Houston, walking outside during the summer is like walking through an armpit.

Anonymous said...

So true! Coming from a small church I can't tell you how many times I have come away from conversations with the impression from other people that I'm supposed to have an inferiority complex about my church. The reigning opinion seems to be that church size automatically equals health and effectiveness.

Jen said...

LOL @ Andrew.


Sherry said...

This week the young adults in our church have been painting (outside), moving dirt, leading Backyard BIble club in an apartment complex, and playing football with kids from the apartments---all in the Houston heat. I've been supervising and trying to stay cool without seeming like too much of a wimp. It's been a great week, but it IS HOT!

I don't hear the size questions/conversations so much, but maybe I just don't hear either. By the way, we had 50+ young people participate in our LIFE Action Week this week:)

djaudas1 said...

I'm not sure why we choose to measure everything except that it seems to be a part of our culture. The book of Acts quantifies so I guess it is OK to do so but not in order to compete or for it to become a pride thing. I doubt there is more rejoicing in heaven about 800 being baptized in a weekend over 1 on a Saturday afternoon. I suggest God is glorified equally in both. In reading this, the saddest part to me is the mention of so many churches. I thought there was only 1. I'm sorry I missed you while you were here. Thanks for the blog. God Bless