When Church is an Exclusive Country Club

John Stackhouse has a post on an article that points out that those in the US evangelical community who are corporate, political, or media elites don’t go to church, at least not in the conventional sense:

“[E]vangelicals who have attained positions of influence in culturally significant institutions, from business to politics to mass media, don’t go to church nearly as often as what he calls “populist” evangelicals.Instead, he says, they belong to home study groups, to friendship circles, and (here’s where things get a bit sinister) to invitation-only fellowships of similarly powerful Christians.

There’s lots to dislike about this picture. It’s one thing to be elite: some people are much more successful in certain things than the rest of us, such as gaining power in mainstream institutions. It’s another thing to be elitist: to think of oneself more highly than one ought to think, to keep out the rabble and to keep oneself to fellow “right-thinking” people.”

At this point though Stackhouse turns around and defends the bigshots, saying that, “evangelical elites can’t find churches worth going to.” He points out that preaching, music, and organization of most churches is, well, mediocre and elite types just can’t get into anything mediocre. I have news for Professor Stackhouse, it’s not as if you need to run a Fortune 500 company to notice these things in some churches. Moreover, I think this surrenders to the mentality that courses through American evangelicalism that sees believers as consumers and church as a market. Rich people don’t drive Camrys, they drive the Lexus, and just as Toyota diversified its brands and image, so should the church. Or something. I think it was C.S. Lewis who warned that you sort of miss the point when you attend church strictly as a critic, Stackhouse seems to give wealthy people a free pass on this behaviour though since they aren’t satisfied. Am I missing something?