Christ-Followers or Consumers?

This looks like an interesting read. Thank you, Zach, for getting me to Doug ‘s site…

Kent Carlson, from his thought provoking book, Renovation of the Church:

We should not assume that those people who are attracted to our church have been captivated by the message of Christ and his alternate view of life …. 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 leader 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 is 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 (p. 68).


4 thoughts on “Christ-Followers or Consumers?

  1. darla says:

    I would be interested in reading this book. I couldnt agree more with what i read here…sad but true. So many churches full of worship, but not full of the worship of God… so many idols, so much weight on the consumer. Thanks for turning me on to this book.


  2. brotherjohnny says:

    Pretty keen insights there.
    I have been looking at these kinds of things for a while and can’t seem to make heads or tails of it all.
    It seems that church history teaches us that you typically either have churches which reflect certain aspects of their “mother culture” or churches which seek to be almost ‘anti-cultural’ in expression.

    Then of course you have churches which insist on imposing their “mother culture” church expression upon foreign cultures because they believe that their version of church is done in “the one true way”.

    The culture of the good ol’ U.S. of A., in my humble opinion, seems to be super-saturated with the need to be entertained. We want to be comfortable, intrigued and amused. Like the writer of the post that you quoted is saying, our “homeland” and all of it’s societal inner workings are geared towards conforming us into and keeping as consumers….and the tricky part is that, in a consumer culture with a mindset for a “free market society”, you have a lot to choose from. Unfortunately, the ‘competitive spirit’, is also often carried over into the ministry.

    So what do we do when the culture, which in someway should be embraced collides with the Spirit of the scripture? Or maybe the question is (sometimes) what do we do when we have competing voices of varying convictions?

    What does it mean, what does it look like to be a disciple of Jesus in the culture in which we find ourselves. What should “our” church look like here?

    Dare we simply say that “It is what it is”…. or is there an authentic need for some radical change in who we (think) we are and how we do what we do?


    • brotherjohnny says:

      Aaand furthermore…
      Hopefully I’m not contributing too much here, but here is (fairly long) snippit from a brother named Mathetes from circa 130A.D. or so concerning what it is that I think I was trying to say above ( I would have posted the link but I’m not 100% sure of the integrity of the site)…

      ***For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity.

      The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life.

      They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed.

      They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven.They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all.

      They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life.

      They are poor, yet make many rich. They are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers.

      When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.***

      I dunno. I hope that this is in the vein of your post, Scott. Pretty cool stuff there, if you ask me!!

      Love to you Brother!!!!


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