Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Church In A Consumer Culture

Do I need to mention that we live in a consumer culture?
  • The customer is always right.
  • Have it your way.
  • Customized.
  • Personalized.
  • Flexible.
  • User Friendly.
  • Pampered...
  • Service Economy
Our society has an entitlement mentality.
  • The most important thing is that I get what I want.
  • If you have it, you should give it to me.
  • If you don't have it, you should get it for me.
  • If you won't get it for me, I have no use for you.
Armies of entrepreneurs clamor for a niche market - some obscure itch that they can scratch better than anyone else. The marketplace is a riot of colors, flavors, sounds, and styles. It is almost impossible to order a beverage, much less a whole meal, because of the hundreds of possible permutations for every item... Large, Medium or Small? Caffeine or Caffeine Free? Sugar or Sugar Substitute? Splenda, NutriSweet or SweetNLow? Cream or No Cream? Hot or Iced? Flavored? What Flavor? Vanilla, Chocolate, Red Raspberry, Black Raspberry, Almond, Walnut, etc., ad infinitum.

Since we are naturally selfish, self-centered, whiners - we like it when people cater to our every whim. But what about at church?

The church is made up of people, but it belongs to Jesus Christ. When we get to the Church of Jesus Christ we need to get over our rabid pursuit of our pleasure. In fact, followers of Jesus are not supposed to be caught up in the rabid pursuit of their own pleasure at all - not at home or the marketplace - and not the church. We are servants - slaves - of Jesus Christ. In His organization, His pleasure is paramount.
(Galatians 2:20) "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
It gives me a perfect fit that people hop from church to church seeking a perfect fit.

These are not servants of Christ seeking a place to honor Him by using their talents in His service. They are consumers - seeking a "bang for their buck." They have particular tastes in music, preaching, scheduling, programming, etc. In many cases their preference is evidently a God themed entertainment, rather than God honoring, life transforming, proclamation of the inspired Word of God.
(Romans 12:2-6) "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,
5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:"
People should be asking important questions about their churches.
  • Is the word of God central?
  • Is the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed?
  • Are sinners called to repentance?
  • Are believers called to transformation and holiness?
  • Is biblical teaching a high priority?
  • Can I serve here?
In the church CHRIST is to be preeminent - not whiny people.
(Colossians 1:18) "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence."
Is there something that needs to be cleaned, repaired, changed at your church? Do you think there should be a new program or service provided? What's stopping you? Step up to the ministry God has called you to do!

The self absorbed consumer culture in much of Christianity is not just a shame. It is a sin!
(James 4:1-4) "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
Should the church cater to this consumer culture in order to fill their buildings with people who want to be petted? God forbid!
(2Timothy 4:2-5) "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

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