I suppose a party does make sense, but. . . .

Baptism — new life in Jesus Christ! With baptism promising regeneration of the self to eternal life, incorporation into the church, forgiveness of sins and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, why wouldn’t one want baptism to be a party?

While I suppose a party does make sense, it just might be the case that Potential Church is taking the idea just a bit too far.

Beach balls aside (don’t forget to bring one, by the way), I am fascinated by the use of the term symbol in the two-point(!) catechesis on baptism half-way down the page. I suspect that by it they really mean sign, but it’s nice to have such a ready entrée for dialogue about sacramental theology.


  1. I note that the pastor is “well-known for his extreme creativity in designing unexpected worship experiences.” I think this is an area worth discussion. From my perspective, the last thing I want is an “unexpected worship experience.” But don’t you think that this may be a minority viewpoint in our society? If people are flocking to the novel, because of its novelty, what can we do with our “boring” Mass, that we claim to be the center of our worship life?

    1. RE: “the ‘boring’ Mass”

      I think that this points out the problem I have, at least, with a lot of mega-church style worship, namely that the pressure of being “relevant” requires one to develop worship with a emphasis on novelty. The technological society is obsessed with novelty, of course, and the historic patterns of the liturgical churches will of course reach an impasse if “cultural relevance” requires continual novelty.

      Beyond this, however, I find several issues problematic with this presentation. As Fr. Unterseher points out, the use of “symbol” here more approximates “sign,” and in either case, the specter of the connotation of “cipher” lurks in the background of the use of these terms within the context of Potential Church’s usage. Furthermore, within my own liturgical sensibilities, I find it troublesome that the use of “unexpected worship experiences” betrays a lack of coherence regarding the historic nature of Christianity. What I mean by this is that I perceive a natural coherence between the historical nature of the Christ event and the unfolding experience of Christian worship within the history of liturgy. Therefore, I find liturgical novelty for the sake of novelty disorienting because it treats innovates an historical phenomenon without any sense of history.

      Therefore, I wonder how much catechesis on the part of the sacramentally-minded interlocutor is necessary to engage someone coming from a “Potential Church” perspective to capitalize on the sacramental entrée.

      (Not to mention the ecclesiological issues with a church that calls itself “Potential Church”; it reads to me as “Potential Actual Theological Reality.” How’s that for disorientation!)

  2. I provided an unexpected worship experience by suddenly singing the Veni Creator before the postcommunion prayer for my staid Japanese congregation just now — the organ took it up.

  3. The page tells you the meaning of baptism, but not why baptism is meaningful (by which I mean important) or why you should receive baptism. There are so many other passages they could have included, although I don’t know if an abundance of reading material would end up discouraging potential (ha ha!) participants.

  4. Both Sunday Masses have Baptisms scheduled on different weeks each month -(2nd and 4th Sundays?).

    The baptismal promises are given after the homily and take the place of the creed. The pastor lifts each child aloft after the baptism to receive the applause of the congregation – because we have promised to help raise this child.

    All this, and Mass takes just under an hour. Works for me!

  5. If people are flocking to the novel, because of its novelty, what can we do with our “boring” Mass, that we claim to be the center of our worship life?
    “Potential Church”? Aren’t they the same people
    who’ve told us over the years the eucharist is just a great feast, a happy meal, an endless “celebration of life”,; and disdain the theme of penance in the liturgy outside of the Lenten confessional rites? Just as a duck takes to water (pun intended),I’m assuming many jumped at the idea of yanking out perfectly beautiful baptismal fonts to replace them with Malabu Beach-style swimming pools with running waters.

    So, now they’re bored again? Oh dear, I shouldn’t wonder.

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