Consumerism in Christianity?!
The problem is that the United States has a consumer mentality.
First, let’s define consumerism!
--“A view of life that says everything is to be evaluated on whether it satisfies my desires and makes me whole, it’s not really a worship of stuff, at root, it’s a worship self at any cost.”24 As an educator to urban young people between the ages of 16-24 for twenty-years in Miami, Florida, students have defended purchasing the latest pair of Michael Jordan sneakers rather than purchasing a GED book by saying, “I’ve got to have them,” or “it’s in style who wouldn’t want them,”. We hear countless stories on the news of fights in the malls or shootings at sport outlet stores for these same “over-priced sneakers,” so it appears that desires to gratify self has superseded morals.
Society and consumerism appears to be driving the church. People often choose a church based on the services it provides such as form-and-function rather than doctrine. “Church shopping” is a relatively new phenomenon in the American Church where an individual/family can window shop for church building beatification, the best programs, the finest choirs, the softest pews or the most gifted preaching. Unfortunately, this spirit of competition has slithered its way into the church of the west and many believers are no longer concerned with church health but church wealth. The church leadership and its members have slipped into an indifference about whether it is healthy holistically or whether it’s fulfilling the “the Great Commission.” The church is not a Fortunate 500 Corporation competing for the profits of its consumers at all costs, nor was it designed to compete with secular organizations.
In the book called the Organic Church by Neil Cole the author says, “We cannot compete with Hollywood when it comes to entertainment. The best preachers cannot out-entertain Jay Leno and David Letterman, with their team of talented writers. The best worship band cannot put on a better show than the Rolling Stones, No Doubt, or Green Day. Our buildings are not as nice as the ones that corporate America is constructing; in fact, other religions and cults are outdoing us architecturally. Have you seen any Christian movies? Please! We are not able to come up against the world, play its game, and win. It is a foolish strategy---and a needless one.”25
So, what is the solution to consumerism in the church?
Get back to the basics and get away from consumerism simply put. God's house is not a marketplace. It's a living organism, not just an organization. The church of Jesus Christ has three responsibilities: 1. to praise and worship God, 2. Community/nurturing the body of believers, 3. and apostolic missions. If the church does the things it was intended to do we will then see a revival and a great move of God.
25. Niel, Cole Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens (San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2005), 95.