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Consumerism and the church
by Estee in

I'm a consumer.  I definitely spend too much time buying clothes and shoes and books and fancy food from Central Market.  I admit this.  But I also see the problem with it, not only because of the fights it causes in my marriage ("But honey, it was on sale!"), but also because I see how being a consumer can consume me.  I can get so wrapped up in looking for a bargain, in shopping for something to wear, that I become consumed with the task of consuming.

The preoccupation we have with consumption carries into areas of our life that have little to do with money.  Here's an excerpt of a blog post I read about how our consumer mindset is translated into the church.  It makes me squirm in my seat, because I find it true, but really uncomfortable and unfortunate.  This is out of the book "Renovation of the Church" and I found the quote on the missional church network:

"I don’t know how to say this in a gentle way, but we should not assume that those people who are attracted to our church have been captivated by the message of Christ and his alternative vision of life. In truth, most North American Christians are not riding courageously on warrior steeds with swords waving wildly in the air, crying out, “Let’s change the world for Christ.” Rather, they come in the air-conditioned comfort of their SUV or minivan with their Visa card held high in the air, crying out, “Let’s go to the mall!”

We should be more truthful with each other here. They come because their high-school kid likes the youth program, or because their children don’t get bored, or because they like the music, or because the pastor preaches the Bible the way they believe it should be preached, or because they happened to be greeted by a smiling face one day, or because the worship leaders looks like Brad Pitt.
This is the hard, raw reality of life in the North American church. The people who come to our churches have been formed into spiritual consumers. This is who we are. It is our most instinctive response to life. And you can hardly blame us. Almost everything in our culture shapes us in this direction. But we must become deeply convinced that this is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, the one who invited us to deny ourselves and lose our lives in order to find them. If we do nothing to confront this in our churches, we are merely putting a religious veneer over consumerism and nothing is changed. We offer no real, viable, attractive, alternative way of living. And what is worse, our churches become part of the problem. By harnessing the power of consumerism to grow our churches, we are more firmly forming our people into consumers. Pastors end up being as helpful as bartenders at an Alcoholics Anonymous convention. We do not offer what people really need."


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