Saturday, July 25, 2009

Quick stuff on Consumer Christianity

Out of Ur is sponsoring an interesting contest. Took an excerpt from the post on the context below, but go to the website blog for the full details. I won't be entering but it is an interesting subject that I have been thinking about on and off for a long time.

Too tired to write out some of my thoughts but thought it would be of benefit to post some of the points brought up last Sunday on the subject by my church's guest speaker which I thought was spot on and food for thought. The speaker was Dr. Rod Edwards. He's a former BCNZ CE lecturer, (now Laidlaw College). He's now with a Brethren based Bible Institute helping them develop in a unique way.

First the Out of Ur excerpt ...

In keeping with that theme, Out of Ur is sponsoring a contest to see whether Urbanites can spot Consumer Christianity when they see it. Here's how it works:

1. Write a working definition of "Consumer Christianity" in 100 words or less AND/OR send a photograph that captures the essence of Consumer Christianity. (Extra points will be awarded for entries Url Scaramanga finds original, funny, or so insightful it makes him stop and say, "Hmmm".)

2. Email your definition/photo to Url at: Url@christianitytoday.com.

3. Include your name and mailing address.

4. The best entries will be posted on Out of Ur and Url will select 50 winners to receive free copies of The Divine Commodity.

Now Rod's notes which is just point two of his six points on the topic I asked him to speak on "Challenges facing the NZ church". Amazing how much he squeezed in and with such clarity and focus with his limited time. And he also spend the first half giving 6 "ancient challenges" that the early church faced based on Acts 11. One of the best sermons I have heard since I have been in NZ and I have heard many excellent and challenging sermons.

2. The Challenge of a Consumer Society Infecting Church

a. Consumerism seen in competing personal interests which influence:

i. Attendance
Becomes dispensable: “I’ll choose to come if it suits me.”

ii. Identity
Becomes individual, not corporate. “I” and not “we” is paramount.

iii. Loyalty
Becomes subject to other consumable products offered by other churches

iv. Belongingness
Becomes fragile/tentative and the idea of the “church as family” is lost. Inconsistent attendance diminishes the strength of attachment and rootedness into a fellowship.

v. Participation
Becomes optional with little sense of obligation and the attitude that, “The pastor should do this for me.”

vi. Response: Involvement. Example of young adult relations, Andrew & Julia, and their London identification with a smaller congregation where involvement is high. Challenge consumerism through relationship!

b. Consumerism in worship

i. Worship becomes something to “consume” – “I didn’t get anything out of the worship this morning.”

ii. “Spectator worship” is the norm and “What can you do for me?” rather than “What can I bring to God?”

iii. Response: Rather than a formulaic predictability (In earlier days: hymn, prayer, hymn, sermon, hymn, prayer. What is the one today?) is it possible to recapture the breadth of worship?

• Music. We live in a music saturated society (malls, buses, airports, MP3s, ipods, etc) so identify and capture music well, both ancient and modern, and with good theology! But in addition remember and use . . .

• Aesthetics

• Silence and contemplation

• Oral: liturgy (eg. as in a psalm), or congregational contributions (solicited or offered, prepared or spontaneous)

• Celebration

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