We live in the wealthiest society the world has ever known, a country where the poorest among us has life-enhancing amenities that kings only dreamed of a hundred years ago:
Our food, a great assortment of meals, is available in minutes on demand.
- We control the temperature in our homes.
- Our homes! They’re big and filled with stuff.
- We travel from one place to another at unheard-of speeds.
- We have nonstop entertainment or education available in our homes.
- If we push a button, anything we want comes to our doorstep in three days.
We are the sun in our own solar system with worlds of choices orbiting around our heads.
And so we shop for churches. We compare the services between them like we do everything else. The music is better here, but the preaching is better there. And the children’s program is just like Sesame Street over there. But then, we’d have to drive 25 minutes to get there, so it’s a toss-up.
And I’m thinking, “What’s wrong with this picture?” Jesus-followers from China, when they visit our church services, compare them to a theatre experience:
- You are met by an usher
- He escorts you into an auditorium.
- He gives you a program.
- The production has been rehearsed.
- It takes place on a stage.
- Everyone is seated facing the stage.
- The only difference is you pay for admission halfway through.
In China, they meet in homes. They encourage one another and worship together. Of necessity, they keep it simple.
Maybe in another hundred years the pendulum will have swung to the Chinese model of church. Maybe Jesus-followers in that distant time will look back with bemusement on this epoch of consumerism run amok.