Not to be an alarmist, but this is surprising! It is hard to believe that this is happening in England. I wonder how long until we have similar laws in the USA.
Monthly Archives: October 2009
Skye Jethani notes that there is a somewhat outspoken encouragement for church leaders to “embrace entertainment.” Apparently the the thought is that this approach will open doors that will ultimately lead to life transformation. Jethani takes issue with this in his current book.
“These pastors, representative of so many contemporary Christians, believe that God changes lives through the commoditization and consumption of experiences. If our worship gatherings are energetic, stimulating, and exciting enough then people will attend, receive what’s being communicated, and be spiritually transformed. The justification for this approach is simple – people won’t come to a church that’s boring. And what qualifies as boring is defined by our consumer/experience economy. … In Consumer Christianity, the shepherd becomes a showman.” – The Divine Commodity, p. 75.
This book, surprisingly published by Zondervan, clearly articulates a significant weakness in many American churches. The complaint about the consumerization of the church is not new (e.g., John MacArthur made that point years ago); but Jethani’s approach is creative and compelling. Using paintings by Vincent Van Gogh he provokes some deep thinking.
I’ve been thinking of posting several of Jethani’s insights, but realized that his argument is best served by reading it whole. You even get a meaningful and surprising lesson in Art! His thoughts on the Lord’s Table (communion) are insightful; his challenge about seeking a place to be comfortable are convicting.
No comment required:
Alienation has conditioned consumers, including the religious variety to believe context is irrelevant. Value is found only in something’s immediate usefulness, in its ability to satisfy our immediate desire. As a result we have alienated God from the larger story of Scripture that informs us of his character and attributes. At the same time that we are flippantly producing more words about God, we are paradoxically less interested in the words he has spoken about himself. Why bother reading what happened long ago in a land far away? Instead, just boil the story down to three applications on a PowerPoint Slide.
This is the view of God a consumer culture feeds to our imaginations—a controllable and convenient deity devoid of any relevant context. But before this false god can be replaced in our minds it must first be erased, shattered by an encounter with the true God beyond our grasp.
From The Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani (emphasis mine).
OK. One comment. We must preach, teach, proclaim, and live, the truth of the true God. It is more powerful than trying to rail against the false ones.
No one can follow God and be comfortable for long (p. 43) – Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality
If you don’t believe it, then you might not be following God all that closely. Yes, God promises to supply all our needs, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy or pleasant; but it will be worth it.