Thursday, August 18, 2005

Communer or Consumer

Recently I have been thinking quite a bit about the church and what God expects from it since it is His and not ours, we are just stewards. All too often we take church too lightly and thus our decisions are driven by everything but what God desires. The maxim of the church today seems to be if it works it must be good and God must be blessing the action. I was listening to a radio program and the person was talking about the Mormons and how they use the same argument for the validity of them being a true church and they point to Acts 5:34 and following where Gamaliel basically said to let the apostles do what they do because if it is a success God must be in it. So using this single verse which simply relates a Jewish leader’s opinion we can do anything and if it works it must be from God.

That said, the question I would like to ask is are we communers or consumers when it comes to church. This is a vital question because by the looks of most church growth plans the church looks at prospective members as consumers as we constantly are seeking things to supply to the people. That is, we supply the right commodity and people come we must be successful if we take a “the people are consumers” mentality.

I think the question is vitally important since it drives how we “do” church. If we are intent on supplying the needs of the consumer, then we will supply consumables which by their very name are not lasting. But, if we desire to provide a place to commune with God through prayer, the proclamation of His word, serving and community then we can work at providing a more lasting, even eternal, aspect to church.

A focus on communing does not negate the church meeting needs but instead focuses on a right relationship with God and the needs will be met. By having a mentality that seeks to commune with God through seeking joy in Him in all we do then serving others, thus meeting needs should be a natural result of the overflow of our joy. This is easier said than done since taken in a wrong manner we can easily become so entrenched in some system that while we think we are communing we are actually simply engaging in empty and dry practices that no more commune with God than those that simply consume since we begin to consume what we call spiritual things but miss the communing aspect altogether.

So, my challenge to you is to ask yourself if you are a communer or consumer and be honest. We can fool others and often ourselves but we cannot fool God. So seek to be a communer with God and not simply one of the thousands that spend inordinate amounts to time and money simply consuming and in the end just where they started, no closer to God. I pray this is as convicting for you as it is for me since it takes this conviction to change from one mindset to the other because consuming is so natural for us.

Grace and Peace to You.

Tony

3 comments:

Dave Revnak said...

Often I feel like I have more in common with a doorknob than some people at church, and I think “What am I doing here?” It is the fact that we meet together to enjoy Christ’s truth and fellowship that gives me any common ground with some of these people. And this is enough. –or ought to be enough!

It's sad, but sometimes I go to church in consumer mode. Either I say, “how is this helping me?” or I say, “I bet I can meet other’s needs better than that guy!” –which is probably the ministers version of being a “consumer”. Its prideful I know... and that is what I tend to do when I'm not enjoying Christ.

Dave Revnak said...

This brings up another thought! Should we feel convicted if in our “fellowship” is focused on things peripheral or unrelated to Christ?

I’m not saying that we should be 'OVER SPIRITUAL' in our language but perhaps we try to relate with people on so many levels that has nothing to do with our common ground as Believers.

I may be overreacting but maybe we are RELATING too much with other stuff. Give me a church full of diversity of every kind and I will be happy to relate with nothing other than things relevant to Christ and the gospel.

...at least I hope I would be happy doing none other than that.

Tony said...

Hi Dave:

In many ways we are all consumers when it comes to God but it is where our heart is that matters. When we meet with God we add nothing to Him: He does not become more blesses, more Glorious or even more Honorable. But in meeting with God we do gain, or should gain, joy so we do get something and should seek after that. The point is that consumables are disposable and we want to seek after God to gain a joy that is lasting.

My call to look at our reason for worshipping was solely to keep us going in the correct direction. Your comment on what happens when you do not enjoy Christ is exactly the thing we need to remember. We often get so caught up in things that we do not ask ourselves if we are doing as God desires and for reasons God condones.

I would hope that all that we do would relate to Christ in some way. I agree that we should not be "over spiritual" as this is often a result of trying to consume spirituality. I hope I have not put you on a guilt trip but instead convicted us to check ourselves daily to see what our motivations are.

If we truly see God's sovereignty in all things, even the church we are led to, then even if we feel out of place we can know that in the midst of community we are called to where we are for a reason other than chance. So as we grow in the community God leads us to we learn to function as God designed us in that community and also be prepared for other communities God may lead us to.

This is all a work in process as we by our nature seek to consume rather than commune, as God sees communing. It is the nature of sin to seek our own self interest and the goal os to move that seeking to one of finding and experiencing God in all things and all situations.

Well just some more to think about. Thanks for the comments as it helps me think this about and how it works itself out in the everyday life of the church.

Grace and Peace To You,

Tony