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Consumerism:

The enemy of Christian discipleship and community

Cris Rogers

There are many things that will numb your life: TV, alcohol, drugs, negative people but none are so prevalent as consumerism. This affects many of us and its effects are far and wide. It destroys you without you even noticing and will leave you thinking what you are doing is enjoyable. But consumerism will always leave you wanting more, needing a bigger fix until you get bored and you move on. We can now see the effects of consumerism taking its toll on society. People are in debt; they feel a deep loneliness and a lack of value. Its also leaving people unable to make deep and meaningful connections nor look for ways that they might give rather than just take.

 

The long term affects of this culture on the church has left us desiring smoke machines over authenticity, shallow deep relationships over sincerity and a never ending movement of people looking for ‘their’ perfect church. Niche churches are popping up all over the country, hipster church, young adults church, trendy church. We chase the celebrity pastor over real life community and the church is left like zombies, only partly alive. 

 

The church has become a place to consume what we want, when we want it, rather than be challenged by others not like us to think in a wider Jesus way. You can’t build a church on consumeristic people, they will abandon you the moment you don’t fulfil their needs. Disciples are people who have died to their own agenda and needs for Jesus’ agenda and the needs of others.

 

HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M A CONSUMER?

1. Do you go to church to be served or do you go to serve? When did you last get involved with the welcome, kid’s work, washing up or hoovering?

2. Do you financially give to your church?

3. Do you turn up to church feeling like you are entitled to be led in the worship songs or hymns you prefer? Or are you grateful for having a place to worship?

4. Did you join your church because it made you feel good about yourself? Or did it make you feel more grateful for Jesus?

5. Do you ask yourself how you can support the church leadership in order to accomplish the churches goal or do you look at them critically thinking you know how it should be really done?

6. Do you focus on your personal preferences or on what are other people’s preferences and needs might be?

7. Do you focus on what you will gain coming to this church rather than counting the cost of following Jesus at this church for others?

8. Do you arrive at the church as the service starts and leave at the end or do you arrive early, help make drinks and hoover up at the end?

9. Do you arrive and wonder why no one welcomed you or do you ask who needs welcoming?

10. Do you go to a church where there are lots of people like you?

 

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

There is this inconvenient truth; Jesus called us to pick up our cross and die to ourselves. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it “When Christ calls a man (or woman), he bids him come and die.” Consumerism and Jesus just can’t work together. Jesus calls us away from consumeristic Christianity and invites us not to just believe but to sacrifice all for Him. Consumeristic lives place us at the centre of them. We take what we want, when we want and we will not turn up to anything that does not fit our taste. 

 

ME is at the centre of consuMErism. 

 

What I want when I want.

 

A disciple places Christ at the centre and they want to be where He is. 

 

A consumer will turn up to church and take what they can but a disciple will bethe church.

A consumer will hear a message but a disciple will bea message. A contributing Christian or disciple is somebody who can embrace both the beautiful and the messy parts of a Church community because they understand that Jesus has embraced both the beautiful and the messy parts of themselves. 

 

I’m a consumer, what should I do?

Consumerism only exists where it’s allowed to exist. Don’t allow yourself to jump around churches. Force yourself to join a serving position at your church. Set up a standing order to give regularly to your church. Arrive early or stick around at the end and get involved in setup or pack down. Discipleship is not consumer friendly - so get yourself a mentor who can speak into your life and point you to Jesus. 

Cris leads All Hallows Bow a church plant in East London and is passionate about discipleship.

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