In these posts, I will consider 3 approaches to "church" in the U.S. that seem to have some staying power. These are not the only approaches. They are not mutually exclusive, but they can be. These posts are more observational than prescriptive, but, I think every "type" of church can learn from the others. I will try to lay out some pros and cons of each approach, but this is not exhaustive and if you happen to have some personal connection to the metaphors I've chosen and you're offended, well, sorry, but please get over it. The previous post was about the "Bed and Breakfast" Church. Today's metaphor is the "Volunteer Fire Department."
Pros - These churches can be very generous. If you have a crisis in your life, and the slightest social connection to the congregation, people from a church like this will descend like a horde of lasagna-bearing love-locusts. Regardless of whether you attend church, you will have frozen meals for a month. You will have free-babysitting. And (in the best cases) you will NOT feel like you owe them anything. To these folks, they are "just doing their jobs" as followers of Jesus. Granted, you may have to submit to being prayed for, and you may be encouraged to read your Bible, but if you shyly decline, they won't be offended. Often these churches have a great deal of camaraderie and function like extended families, raising their children village-style and giving concerted effort to training the next generation of emergency-response Christians.
Cons - Sometimes the VFD Church is a bit more reactive and proactive. It could be argued that they have skills and abilities that could be valuable in non-emergency situations as well. Sometimes "high-demand" does go too far and becomes moralistic and legalistic, which could be especially overwhelming for people not socialized to that way of doing church. Sometimes an elitist attitude of sorts can develop in relation to other Christians and non-Christians, and it's palpable. When I attended one church like this, I had the sense that they thought they were the only Christians (and the only decent people) in town. In worst-case scenarios, the services a VFD Church offers to the community do come with rather aggressive strings-attached evangelization.
image above from townofdenton.com