What is the biggest challenge to American Christianity?
In all honesty, I don’t have any statistical research identifying what is the #1 challenge, but I do want to submit to you a leading contender.
Consumerism – Definition: “The preoccupation of society with the acquisition of goods.”
Consumerism is one of the biggest attributes of the American culture. This is because of all the advertising we see in our capitalistic economy. We are catered too thousands of times a day with ads. These ads tell us that if we buy their product it will help us in some way or we will be fulfilled if we buy it or we will look great if we wear it. We are used to being the center of everything, constantly picking from a multitude of options, and having every whim catered to – especially if we have the money.
Guess what happens when we become Christians? We carry this consumer culture over into the church. When we come into church we expect to be the center of the programs, have a multitude of things to pick from, our whims catered too, and given many options on how to follow Jesus. Very few people come to church to meet and know God but for God to meet and know them.
If you are an American pastor you have heard a visitor or even a member make a statement like this, “We are checking out all the churches in the area. We are just not satisfied here.”
When I have had this said to me I feel like I have been reduced to a shop clerk that has inferior goods and I immediately think of ways to satisfy this person to keep them ‘shopping’ at my church.
I wonder if the Apostle Paul had to contend with keeping people satisfied? All of a sudden the mandate of the leadership (Ephesians 4:11-14) to mature people seems so old-fashioned. If I dared to try and encourage maturity they would simply cross me off their shopping list.
Commitment to a cause or a group of people? Or you kidding? In this day there are to many choices to keep buying just one brand of something.
The problem is that Christianity is a narrow way not a 19 aisle checkout at Wal-Mart.
Jesus said no one comes to the Father except through Him. Wait, can’t I also get salvation on sale at the store down the road in a different color?
The Bible says to take up your cross daily. Whoa…don’t tell me what I have to do. I get to pick and choose remember. I have a coupon that says no pain.
Jesus said my sheep follow my voice. Wait, I thought Jesus was to listen to my every word and carry out my plans. He walks with me first doesn’t He?
Does God have value beyond what He can do for me? Just as goods have become commodities I am afraid that much of Christianity including God has become commodities.
I wonder if the American Church could best be described as a vending machine? A place to get something to ‘pop out’ instead of a place of interaction, growth, learning obedience, serving others, and commitment. It’s amazing to me how we change churches like we change labels.
Is it the job of the church to be convenient providing everything possible to ease our life? Many of the church ads I see around town look just like something being advertised at the local department store.
God used to be a consuming fire where it consumed us. But in our modern age we consume Him when, how, and where we want.
Consumerism – our culture. Is it now the church’s culture?
What do you think? Does consumerism affect your view of the church?