Small groups is a great answer to the comsumerism problem. Family devotions are another. Fellowship and quality time in the Word cannot happen in most church services. The problem is time commitments and busy schedules prohibit many people from following through on either option. Erin
The consumer church
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.
Nice post. In my previous city of residence, the church I attended met as small groups on Wednesday evenings. We called them “House churches,” and these groups of 8 to 14 became as family. Truly so. It is through these House churches that the well being of the members was cared for. Family does that well. I miss it. FYI: I quoted you at http://genethomas.wordpress.com
Actually, I would have to disagree with Erin’s comment. I think small groups may be a NECESSARY answer to the problem of consumerism, but not a “great” or final one; in many ways, we’ve created small groups to deal with a greater problem that exists in the hearts of Christians. I am very much opposed to consumerism in the Church and think real fellowship and community (as messy as it is) is one of the key answers to this problem; however, community must exist outside of a once-a-week small group to truly be healthy.
Erin is right that fellowship and quality time in the Word cannot happen in most church services. Christianity MUST exist outside of Sunday mornings. But at the same time, maybe it’s the way we structure our church services to be “seeker sensitive” that end up denying members of that fellowship and time in the Word.
I’ve never been a fan of the heavily marketed, so-called “seeker sensitive” services. This doesn’t mean I don’t like contemporary services; I think it’s good to be relevant. But at the same time, seeking non-Christians who show up at church want to see how Christians act in their place of worship, not be fed donuts and coffee before being called to the altar.
Perhaps the heart behind “seeker sensitive” services is right. But pragmatically, they end up attracting a crowd of consumers interested only in what their church can do for them (and not vice-versa). This is a significant problem, as it denies the true purpose of the Body of Christ.
1Cor. 14:26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
O for the day when this becomes the norm again.
I read this yesterday but life got in the way before I could comment.
We are members of a mega church, but only because that church is Biblically sound in its teaching, not because it has all kinds of programs (their kids programs are HUGE and our kids don’t attend them.) We love the Biblical teaching and attend sporadically due to health issues at home. When we don’t go we have homechurch and homesunday school (the kids really miss Sunday schoolnot so much because of the other kids but because they like the stuff they do. 🙂
We have been members of small groups which fizzled due to time constraints and moving. We have been in small churches with many “issues”this Bible, that music, all caught up in the legalism and forgetting to love their members.
We have found that most of our growing (and the kids) comes when we homechurch on a regular basis, attending the big church occasionally, making sure we fellowship with fellow Christians in other places on the side. The Lord laid this format on our hearts a few years ago and we have been amazed at how He has blessed it. I know many others who are feeling the pull towards house churches.