“More and more people spend their time just shopping around,
looking for diversion while avoiding commitment.”
Alan Hirsch, one of the brightest thinkers today on building authentic Christian churches, argues that many churches today use a seeker approach to evangelism and entertainment to attract people to Christ. The devastating result is that ministry becomes another cultural form of consumerism that successfully attracts crowds but fails to transform lives. Rather, the crowds continue to play the soundtrack of the culture – “give me more and more and if the quality isn’t up to my expectations I will shop somewhere else.” The fact that such an approach to ministry builds more religious consumers shouldn’t surprise us.
Hirsch suggest that authentic faith communities must demand that members become “self-feeders” who take responsibility for developing significant personal relationships with other Christians and develop practices that counteract culture and changes us into the image of Christ. This, of course, runs counter to a consumer mentality that is heard by some: “This or that church simply wasn’t feeding me.” As parents we expect our children – at some point – to begin feeding themselves. Why should church leaders expect less from persons committed to following Christ? To advance an argument that one church or another “isn’t feeding me” is simply an indicator of personal laziness.
The Apostle Paul speaks of the Christian journey as a race that must be run well. Training, argues Paul, will be required just as athletes train for competition. Of course, this means more personal effort than popping in a video about Jesus and grabbing a bowl of popcorn. Locating ourselves in small group for accountability, intentional engagement with the scriptures, scheduled and purposeful quiet time with God and developing conversational skills to share our relationship with Jesus with others will be required. I do not promise that any of this is easy. But didn’t your parents teach you that anything great in life is rarely obtained easily?
Consumerism is the dominant worldview of North America. As such, it is competing with the kingdom of God for the hearts and imaginations of God’s people. Heaven watches to see the choices we make regarding our desire to grow into the character of Christ.