6.13.2011

Consumerism and Mission

The Church in the West has built a model of church growth that attracts people to attend congregational events, and ultimately join a local congregation, by providing services to the individual.  A local church will provide excellent child-care, professionally played music, state of the art facilities, and ministries specially tailored to individual desire.

This has resulted in a Church where individual Christians choose their congregational affiliation based on the fulfillment of personal desire.  Christians might live on the West Side of Buffalo, but attend worship services in Williamsville, or even further away.  This is not entirely problematic in and of itself; one person leaving their neighborhood to worship and witness elsewhere has little effect, but when the entire church pursues this same pattern of relationship, there is a deep disfunction that settles on the Church.

The Mission of God consists in getting the salt out of the salt shaker and into every corner of society, but when the salt continues to seek out larger and larger salt shakers within which to seclude themselves from the world, that mission suffers.  The Mission of God requires each and every Christian to take personal responsibility for seeing God's Kingdom Come to the little corner of the earth that they inhabit, this is impossible if we refuse to labor towards the blessing of the place we are at, and instead seek our own blessing by going elsewhere...

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This doesn't mean it is a sin to drive past one worship service to attend another, but rather this is a check on our motives.  God called Paul to leave Jerusalem, and then to leave Antioch; it would have been sinful for him to stay when God said, "Go."  This is not about which congregation we choose to belong to, but about how we make that decision.

People want the Church to provide child care, excellent music, air conditioning, clean carpets, good teaching, hot coffee, and a single's ministry with lots of attractive and wealthy members.  God wants the Church to provide people who will live for His Kingdom, love each other sacrificially, work tirelessly for justice, and live their lives as a shining light in a dark world.  We must chose which list we will use to determine the course of our lives, and the course of our Church.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer tells us that, "discipleship is not an offer that man makes to Christ."  What this means, simply put, is that God is offering us an opportunity to get involved in His project, He has no real desire to get on board with our agenda.  He is not merely a planet in our sky, important and beautiful, but ultimately in orbit around us; rather He is the sun around whom we must find our orbit.

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What this all boils down to is this: Consumerism is the enemy of Mission.  Consumerism, simply put, is making decisions based upon the fulfillment of personal desires; I will do what satisfies my needs.  Mission, simply put, is making decisions based upon the fulfillment of God's desire to bless other people.  When the Church embraces consumer values we eschew missional ones, and vice versa.

3 comments:

Josh Hopping said...

FYI - Thought you might like to know that I have been getting some good comments about your post from the excerpt I listed on "Requisite Danger." (well, there and on Facebook....)

Blessings my friend. Blessings.

GetOrganizedAlready said...

Consumerism is the opposite of a lot of good things, not just mission.

Consumerism is the opposite of charity, caring for the earth's resources, the opposite of responsibility...

Steve S. said...

Amen sister!