(Moody Broadcasting Network, 2013)
The dictionary defines the word "church" as "a building that is used for Christian religious services." If that is true, and most of us would agree with that definition, than how can atheists have a "church?"
It appears to be some kind of English import to America. Two British comedians have started something they call Sunday Assembly. The "Assembly" defines themselves as "a godless congregation that celebrate(s) life. Our motto: live better, help often, wonder more. Our mission: to help everyone find and fulfill their full potential. Our vision: a godless congregation in every town, city and village that wants one."
Not unlike most religious' organizations, the Sunday Assembly has a type of doctrinal statement. Its statement of non-faith goes like this. The Sunday Assembly:
- Is 100 percent celebration of life. We are born from nothing and go to nothing. Let's enjoy it together.
- Has no doctrine. We have no set texts so we can make use of wisdom from all sources.
- Has no deity. We don't do supernatural but we also won't tell you you're wrong if you do.
- Is radically inclusive. Everyone is welcome, regardless of their beliefs – this is a place of love that is open and accepting.
- Is free to attend, not-for-profit and volunteer run. We ask for donations to cover our costs and support our community work.
- Has a community mission. Through our Action Heroes (you!), we will be a force for good.
- Is independent. We do not accept sponsorship or promote outside businesses, organizations or services
- Is here to stay. With your involvement, The Sunday Assembly will make the world a better place
- We won't tell you how to live, but will try to help you do it as well as you can
- And remember point 1… The Sunday Assembly is a celebration of the one life we know we have
Assemblies are already set up in San Diego, New York and Washington, D.C. and Nashville. The goal is to have 40 new assemblies within a year and 1000 in the next decade. Chicago and Los Angeles are the next cities on their list.
One of the founders, Sanderson Jones, is using a church model to plant his assemblies, noting that there's "very little that's bad about church" – except, in their church, there is no God. The group desires to be more visible by establishing mega-churches where atheists and skeptics can feel welcome by experiencing the joy of fellowship with other non-believers while omitting fellowship with God.
During their services, attendees sing "Lean on Me" rather than "Leaning on Jesus" and "Here Comes the Sun" instead of "Jesus, Son of God." The motto of the movement, Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More, reveals their desire to have community but without anyone or anything to worship.
Jesus told the Samaritan woman that worship was not a place, or even a gathering – it was a person, the Savior of the world. Without Him, gathering in an assembly, singing songs and hearing warm inspirational stores is, in the end, meaningless. In the words of John Calvin – "Those who set up a fictitious worship, merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies." Considering that this "godless" church movement was started by some comedians, perhaps they will soon come to understand what they are promoting is truly tragic.