a Starbux-like coffee bar, amazing playground for the kids, most coolest youth room, hottest blazing band for worship, we offer...we offer...we'll give you...we'll give you...you will feel comfortable...you will feel good...We are friendly people!
OK. Forgive the slight sarcasm. And I do like coffee. My kids like playgrounds, and youth rooms should be cool. (What? You think they should be boring?)
It makes me wonder, though. I've read many times that church members in the U.S. tend to be consumers. We like to shop around for a church in much the same way as we shop around for a good restaurant:
"The waiter didn't smile much."
"The food was a little cold."
Or, how about, "I didn't like the way the preacher said..."
Or, "The music was a little too traditional for me."
Or, "The carpet was old."
I was a pastor. For 15 years. And I got frustrated at comments such as these. But I wonder if the philosophy put forth by pastors and leaders of churches today is something that causes (or, at least lends toward) a consumer mentality among American Christians.
Have you ever read a church marque sign that stated: "Join our church! We'll put you to work!"
Or, has anyone ever invited you to their church because they "strive to suffer much for the sake of the gospel"?
"Join us! Join us! Join us this Sunday at 11am--YOU'LL LOVE IT!!"
That's much different wording than what the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: "join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God." (2 Tim. 1:8)
Inspiration is missing in church. I'm talking about real inspiration to sacrifice for the most worthy cause. I'm talking about real motivation for the most worthy purpose!
"Join our church! It might hurt a little, but the rewards are out of this world!"
Churches in America need contributors, not consumers. CONTRIBUTORS: diehard believers who refuse to settle for complacency, but instead contribute their gifts/talents/skills toward following Christ even into the darkest places so His glory can shine through them.
We sing songs about this! "Shine, Jesus, Shine!" (But, of course, most of us don't like the style of the song. So we miss the whole meaning.)
So are you a contributor? Or a consumer? Are you a pastor or church leader who is producing consumerism in your church? Or are you challenging and inspiring God's people to sacrifice and suffer for the sake of the gospel?
One is surviving life. The other is living above the common. Can you tell which one?