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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thoughts on Today's American Church

"Consumerism in the American Church" consumerism church "american church" "consumerist church" "the church and consumerism"I'm 33 years old and have been going to church on a regular basis for 20 years this summer.  I've been to a lot of churches, and I believe in its importance in my life as an institution.  My satisfaction with it has ebbed and flowed.  My dedication to it waned at times and at others was inappropriately disproportionate to what it warranted.

Currently, I gotta admit, I'm pretty frustrated, not with any particular church but with the American Church as a whole.  I'm fed up with the slimy consumerism that has seeped into the unassuming church.  (This is a good read on that, if you're interested.)  And I naively participate in ushering this empty ideology into our worship by falling for its precepts - that I have to be entertained, that I have to get something out of it, that it's all about my growth and but also comfort, that my needs should be met at church, that I should be getting fed, and on and on.

I think that this mentality has produced a bunch of over-indulged Christians that are just hopping from one church to another because they think that this new church can "meet their needs" better, and then the church leaders are calling that "growth".  Meanwhile, the leaders are busy producing more and more bigger and better programs to attract more of these over-indulged Christians to their church.

If you've been going to church at all in the past 15 years, this is probably not surprising to you and you likely share a lot of the same frustration.  At times in the 20 years of my church-going (6 of which I was just a teenager), the distinction between Jesus and the Church got blurred.  Many times, I was tempted to throw the proverbial Baby (Jesus) out with the bathwater (the church).

And I'm sure you already know this, but this I consistently remind myself: the church is perpetually imperfect, and that's okay.  Jesus didn't say we had to be perfect.  It's comprised of flawed people save by His grace and HIS grace alone - not by works, not by being at church every time the doors are open, not by singing worship songs, not by praying for hours on end, not by reading the bible, not by helping the poor (all good things, obvi).  His grace is the only way we'll be able to stand before Him.

So all that said, I'm just gonna let Jesus be Jesus and let the church be the church.  Jesus is beautifully self-sacrificial and perfectly loving.  The church will continue to be imperfect, flawed, and frustrating this side of Heaven because it's made up of people like me - flawed and broken but redeemed.

My resolve right now is to not be a consumer and to not turn my children into consumers.  I'd much rather they and I be disciples.

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