It seems right and biblical for the church to go after consumerism. It seems to strike right at the heart of the selfish fickleness of mankind.
It often doesn’t.
Have you heard leaders say that people who claim to be too busy for church are just giving excuses? I agree with the sentiment. For my part however, I think that’s to let church off the hook — at least as much as themselves.
What people call consumerism is simply the reality of choice. And there is a whole lot of it! There are varying theologies, congregations and whole denominations that fit under the banner of orthodoxy. But all that aside, if a church isn’t feeding a family’s needs as much as (for example) a child’s sports team, then said church should probably take a long, hard look at itself.
Pointing out people’s apparent fickleness is actually merely whining about unchangeable realities.
What does a church need then? It needs to recognise what it is and where it fits in people’s lives. In short, a church needs to (prophetically) discern what its people need. The way a group is attracts others of a similar mindset. That becomes organisational momentum. Momentum itself is neither virtue nor vice. It simply needs to be steered.
Church and God are often conflated, to the detriment of both.
For some, the church needs to ask questions. For others, the church needs to provide answers. For some, it’s a place of respite, refuge and safety. For others, a place of imagination, possibility and challenge.
It’s been suggested that these are seasonal, and that may be. But any church that makes all of its plans based on too narrow a mission will inevitably lose the people it’s ignoring. And too broad of a mission will lose people who cannot find solidarity behind any purpose.
Though it’s potentially painful, that is as it should be.
Church should never be something that removes people’s volition and/or demands their allegiance. Rather church should be what course-corrects these, shapes them and expands them in the most healthy directions possible.
Awareness of the diversity of intentions, perceptions and purposes heightens the importance of communication — this is how alignment is achieved.
We need to (re)discover a baseline of truth — it’s not as deep and robust as some people often claim, or as perennially elusive as others do.I believe it is available, it is rich and it is vibrant.
We’re not all that different from each other. But we’re not identical, either.
How big we draw our circles of inclusion depends on the issues and concerns at hand. But most often, we could all stand to make them at least a little larger.
Given a given baseline commonality, diversity is not a problem to be solved, but a strength to be leveraged.