Tuesday, May 11, 2010


"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

This video has made its way around countless other blogs.(TSK's blog, Justin Taylor's blog..... the comments are interesting) Many think it is cute we can laugh at ourselves, others think we should look deeper at the consumer driven, materialistic nature of our churches.

I have read many books, and they all contradict each others. Some say that we Christians have designed church service catered to our "insider" needs and we are irrelevant to our culture today. Some cite studies that reveal that we are a media saturated culture, and to reach this culture we (the church) should employ technology, drama, music, video, etc and to not do that is not following the call to go and reach the world.

Yet another book, AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church, makes the claim that even having traditional church, with children's Sunday School, music and a message, is consumer driven.

When I think of "consumer church" I think of one that is attractional, with programs that meet every insider's whim and designed to "draw non church people in" but in reality is what the insiders want and rarely will an everyday community person join in. It does happen, I'm not saying it doesn't. I grew up in a church with programs and I loved it and brought a slew of people from my high school to youth group (so I could win a trip to Disneyland) but looking back today I wonder if the programs were enough to provide something sustainable for the folks I brought to church. I don't know.

Right now, my kids are attending a Christian church-sponsored and organized baseball league. At this very same church, my kids could go to their AWANA program. even though we don't belong to to this club. (I mean, church) There are churches with a sub group for every need, desire and interest. To me, that is program-driven, consumer oriented church.

The church I go to has little programs, so there's a part of me smugly thinking that I don't go to a materialistic, consumer-driven church....... and yet, now I'm forced to wonder and re-evaluate what is consumer oriented? Is it what the "world" wants in a church? Is it what Christians want in their church? Either way, are we all consumers?

Do we spend our time consuming church? Consuming the music? Consuming the message? Consuming each other?

I'm still bothered by this assertion of consumer church, partly because I do have expectations of church. I do want it to "meet my needs". Is it wrong? I want my kids to be well cared for and to learn about God. I like that my pastor has a carefully prepared, planned message that he has prayed over and dillgently studied. I like much of my church. (and disappointed too but that is another post and I think it is easy to criticize the tiny things) but overall, I love my church and what it is doing and moving towards.

It is fun to laugh at the video, but I wonder sometimes if I'm almost numb to church because it is exactly what I expect. Sometimes I do wonder if it is a performance. I know the people are sincere and I know there is nothing wrong with doing something with excellence, but I wonder if I arrive anticipating a "show" instead of simply expecting Jesus?

Sometimes I wonder if I and everyone in church is part of The Sunday Morning Show, acting the role of cheerful, God-Loves -Me type that is expected of us. Sometimes I wonder how "close knit" this community really is? Are we really "friends and family".... willing to work through difficult stuff together or is it a matter of convenience? Or expectation, social standing, or responsibilities? Is it a strong bond, or one that is easily broken?

The reality is, I haven't formed an opinion on this.... but find it interesting. I love the "formula" of my church. I think I get a lot out of the message, I know a lot of friends get a lot out of the music. Is hoping and wanting to come away with something consumer-based?

Is there ever a place for churches that are attractional and consumer driven? Do you think that non Christians are enticed by the "relevant" format of churches? Do you think this way of church, with top notch, culturally relevant music and carefully prepared, engaging messages, is what Outsiders are "looking for" in a church? Or do you think that there are other and better ways to be "attractive" to the World and to the community?

Yes, I know I think too much..... and now you have just joined me in my downward, intense thought spiral!


  1. I think the only way we can avoid the temptation of attending a church to satisfy our own primal consumerism is to be at a church that makes us constantly uncomfortable.

    I highly recommend it.

    I don't think you can make the claim that I've spoken a catch-22 there, because no one WANTS to be uncomfortable.

  2. True; no one WANTS to be uncomfortable!

    Ah, but it is so hard not to seek comfort, security and safety!