“Where do you think we’re missing it?”
This was the question that launched our new sermon series, DEAR GENESIS. It’s a hard yet honest question that needs to be asked. If we have genuine love for the local church and belief that it’s God’s design for the gospel to go forth through the local church, then we need to be willing to examine, evaluate, and evolve when we’re missing the mark. The goal is not reinvention— it’s reclaiming God’s vision for His bride.
Before I tackle this question, a few disclaimers are warranted. (1) I’m 26 years old. That means some of you have been following Jesus longer than I’ve been alive. (2) I’ve been a Christian for 8 years. That means I could be writing with a level of naivete that I’m not even aware of. (3) I’ve been in full-time vocational ministry for 10 months. That means that the seminary-induced, idealistic, messiah complex snobbery might still be running thick through my veins.
However, despite my disclaimers, I genuinely love the church. I try my hardest (albeit not perfectly) to be a scripture-shaped and saturated pastor. My heart is never to throw stones, but rather to learn and grow together to look more like Christ.
So where do I think we’re missing it?
I’m not sure there is a bigger cancer spreading through our church than Christian consumerism: the mentality that church is all about me. When a Christian consumer heads to church on Sunday morning they ask the question “What do I get out of it?”. They choose a church based on what programs they offer, how much the music resonates personally, and whether the preaching speaks to them. At its core, Christian consumerism is a me-centered church where entertainment and preference are the premiums.
How do you diagnose yourself with the cancer? Here are 3 symptoms to look for:
1. You have complaints.
They don’t play my favorite songs. The messages are too fluffy. Too much worship. The sermon is full of theology and not enough application. The kids space is over-crowded. I never find a parking spot close to the building. And, oh my goodness, I have to sit next to strangers!
I’m definitely NOT saying that we shouldn’t question methodology or raise concerns. But you might be a consumer if all you do is shake your head in frustration at everything you disagree with or wish would happen in church.
2. You have excuses.
“Do you serve consistently?”
“No. I’m not sure where God is calling me to serve right now. I’ll pray about it and let you know.”
“Do you support the church financially?”
“No. It’s not a great season of life for me to give to the church’s ministries. I’ll give back to the church through serving when I figure out where God wants me to serve.”
“Are you in a GROUP?”
“C’mon. Be serious. Who has time for that?”
I’m being snarky about it for the sake of the example. I get that there are legitimate constraints that keep us from giving and serving and committing to a particular church for seasons of life. But it is a sign of disease when these seasons of life become the norm and you perpetually have excuses.
3. You have divisive conversations.
It’s one thing to complain. It’s quite another thing to tear down the church. There is not a surer sign that consumerism has gotten into your heart than if you’re deliberately having conversations with fellow church-goers about what the church does wrong. If you find yourself in one of these conversations get out as fast as possible. The apostle Paul was most harsh with people who caused division.
The disease of Christian consumerism is very real and active, but praise God that there is an antidote! The always available, totally free, and 100% effective cure is grace! Like a blast of radiation, grace destroys consumerism and enables us to follow Christ in a posture of giving instead of getting.
The DEAR GENESIS series will be challenging, but it will also be an opportunity to ask, “Where are we missing it?” and begin the conversation together. To listen to the first sermon of DEAR GENESIS, click here!