Thursday, June 5, 2008

Consumerism and the Church

Martin Downes has a great piece on the consumerism virus afflicting the Church. Read it here. I'm by no means immune from this virus. I know it affects me in ways both conscious and unconscious. Romans 12:2 is a process. But my consumerist approach to the Church took a drastic turn several years ago when Shannon and I were involved in a PCA church-planting mission for 15 months. I think every Christian should be involved in a church plant at least once in their lives. I promise it will change the way you view church! We called it church in a trailer. Every Sunday our small band would unload the trailer and scramble to set up the rented auditorium, prepare coffee and snacks, prepare elements for Communion (it's not easy filling those little cups with grape juice!), run off bulletins, set up the resource table, organize the nursery and a dozen other things, all in a furious race against the clock. And God forbid that the landlord forgot to leave the AC on, cause we didn't have the key to the controller! Of course, once worship was over and visitors had been sent on their way, we did it again in reverse.

We often wondered if it was worth it. Most of the time it seemed like an investment of time, energy and frustration without a lot of return. It would have been easier to revert to the shopper mentality that Downes describes and find a church where the cost/benefit ratio was more in our favor. But paradoxically it was through that experience that Shannon and I gained something priceless -- a passion for the Church and the Gospel that we didn't have previously -- which we then brought to our present church and will I hope bring to any future church we're a part of. It's not that we didn't love the Church before, but it was more of a conditional love based on the tangible benefits a particular church could offer. Even though that church planting effort ended in what looked to human eyes like failure, I'm deeply grateful that it taught me the high privilege it is to be part of the visible, local church even when it seems very ordinary and small. I agree wholeheartedly with Downes:

Involvement in the local church is not “another” option on the spiritual menu for 21st century Christians. To belong to God's people, to be part of God's family, is the high privilege conferred on God's children. Here is the place where God dwells by his Spirit. Here is the place where God assembles us, speaks to us, and sanctifies us. Here is the place where he has given gifts. Here is where we are to serve him, serve one another, and display the Gospel. It is time to put consumerism back on the shelf.

1 comment:

JenLo said...

I totally agree with you. We've seen John's brother, Philip & Janan go through the process of planting a church and it has instilled a contagious passion in them! It's inspiring.