Monday, May 07, 2007

McD Christian Churches

Our consumer culture infests the Christian Church.
We who are deeply shaped by the need for instant gratification, want to use our Church as a place to buy instant happiness. I encounter new church members who want to join my church “because of the friendly atmosphere”, or “for the great music”, or “because of the excellent preaching” (I have colleagues who preach very well).
David Fisher writes that
The church is often seen as a place to receive goods and services rather than a body whose purpose it is to serve….Consumers of religion decide church affiliation on the basis of the best services available.
David Fisher in the 21st Century pastor p.77

I long for people who will say to me that they have come to us because Jesus has called them to be here. And that they are called to serve in our street people project, or to visit the retirement homes we care for, or that that they want to participate in our summer Youth Holiday Club.
I pray that we will resist our lust for spiritual orgasm. And instead be willing to commit to a lifestyle of obedience to God’s call.

1 comment:

John van de Laar said...

Pete, I share your concern about the impact of consumerism on the church, and I also share your dream that people would join our communities from a sense of call and a genuine desire to serve.

But, I can't help wonder whether we blur the issue by making it a dualism. If our role is to reach out to people in Christ's name, then that reaching is an attempt to address their needs and longings. If we serve them successfully, they "consume" our service, and perhaps this leads them to join us. Then, they may make the move themselves from consumer to server.

I believe consumer culture is a reality - we can't fight it. While we don't need to pander to it, it does need to be a consideration in how we do ministry. If people are not listening we're not serving them. So, to create a space that people will come to in order to have their needs and longings met is not necessarily a failing on our part. However, once we have given them something to fill them, can we challenge them to begin to share something of what they've received. (Which, I am sure is exactly what you do in your community).

I'm reminded of the bridge on a new Tim Hughes song "God of Justice" He sings: "Fill us up and send us out." Perhaps if we can get this movement happening, we can use even "consumer culture" in service of the gospel!?