Consumers are people who are product driven, they buy what they feel will meet a perceived need. The question that has haunted me over the last week is; how much has this affected the church in America? Have Christians become "spiritual consumers" and has the church been reduced to a product that is to be consmed?
Indulge me for a minute here. Could this be why the attractional church model is the most popular way of structuring ministries? The attractional model focuses on the Sunday morning experience, trying to make it as appealing as possible to the masses, sparing no expense. I was talking to a friend the other day who is on staff at a church up north. He told me that their church was going to launch a second campus where the pastor would be beamed via video to preach the message. During the planning they talked about how all they had to do was to be sure the worship was top notch and they wouldn't have to worry because, and I quote, "we will be the best show in town".
Since when did church become a show? The answer to that question is harder than you might think because it's actually been a while now. If this is not the result of our consumer based society I don't know what is. With all honesty, can we find anything in the Scriptures that would remotely suggest that our main focus is to put on the best show in town? Don't get me wrong, I agree with excellence and we should pursue it in all we do, but how has this become the focus?
That's not all, it even affects us in more subtle ways. It's not just what some would call "seeker sensitive" churches that are affected by this. It seems that many people are driven by what church can do for them and how their needs can be met. Is the worship "annointed", how good is the preacher and are my kids happy? I am not saying that people shouldn't enjoy the church experience but should it really be like shopping for ice cream? Just find your favorite flavor and for that matter it may just be the flavor of the month.
When did church and the Kingdom of God become about us? Jesus seemed to always call his followers to lay down their lives and take up their cross. Maybe the reason it is so hard for people to find a church to their liking is the lack of willingness to engage in the mission of God.
Could it be that what is missing in the equation is you? Could it be that it is not that we need more gifted teachers and worship leaders, but rather people who are using their God given gifts and talents to be the "church" in everyday life. The hopeless, hungry, disillusioned and broken hearted people of this world ultimately do not need a place, they need a people. They need someone to show them the love of Christ and an organization cannot do that; only a person can.
Paul understood this when he wrote, "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
No consumerism here. Paul says don't live for yourself, live for Him! Ultimately it's really not about us, it's about Christ and His Kingdom. I believe that if we really want to experience the fullness of what God has for us it will not be found in the next best thing the "church" has to offer, it will be discovered in the times when we lay down our lives and give ourselves away. This is the way of Christ and it is what the world so desperately needs...the church at its best.