Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                      September 8, 2008
No Divisions in Christ
My Reflections
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I listened to a superb lecture by Alan Roxburgh this week and at the core of the lecture was this thesis: a culture of consumerism has adversely affected the church. Indeed it has. Below you'll find an excerpt out of Philip Kenneson's book, Life On The Vine. In it, in my opinion, he nicely articulates why there's really no such thing as life "inside" and "outside" the church; it all bleeds together.
Although Kenneson is not directly addressing organic or simple church per se, his conceptual understanding of how consumerism affects the church is noteworthy.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: Addressing the elephant in the room: consumerism
Consumerism and Christ's Church 
Excerpt from Life On The Vine by Philip D. Kenneson
Life_VineAlthough we might be hesitant to admit it, the market mentality also affects our lives "inside" the church. This is due not only to the market's pervasiveness but also to the fact that what we do inside the walls of the church building cannot be easily sequestered from the activities we engage in the rest of the week. For example, Christians are not exempt from thinking and acting as if their commitment to Christ is simply one more consumer choice. They often cast themselves, whether knowingly or not, in the role of a consumer, expecting churches to woo them with programs and services that appeal to their particular interests. In response many churches have self-consciously incorporated marketing strategies into their ways of being the church, pitching their programs and services to prospective seekers who are well-versed in such habits of thinking. By blatantly appealing to self-interest, such tactics - no matter how well meaning - neither demonstrate our love for these seekers nor cultivate the habits of thought and action that would nourish Christian love (1999:46).
My Reflections
I tried my darndest this week to create a little makeshift logo that would communicate my commitment (and hopefully yours) to not being a consumer. But, since I don't have the graphics program to make such an object, I'll just have to describe it to you. I envisioned a "no" sign with the words "CONSUMER MENTALITY" in the middle of it. Then, perhaps above or below the sign I was going to place these words, "I WILL NOT TREAT JESUS'S CHURCH LIKE A GOOD OR SERVICE."
The reason I chose this topic for this particular week is because I heard "it" once again. What's "it"? Yet again, I overheard someone state their disappointment in their church because they didn't offer a particular service. Oh Lord, I thought to myself as my heart broke once again, When will it end?
If you're part of some type of organic church expression, then you know organic church folks aren't immune to the consumer bug either; after all, consumerism is no respecter of persons. If your world view is that of a consumer, then that world view will inevitably bleed into every part of your life, including whatever it is you do "organically." For some, you're Consumer_Bagwondering about the kids. Are the children really getting what they need at house church? For others, it's the Bible question. Wouldn't we all grow so much more if we had an experienced Bible teacher around? Are these good questions? Maybe. But I'll tell you this; most of the time these questions are accompanied by a consumer mentality. Instead of being patient and looking for ways to fix whatever the perceived problem is, many start looking for a way out.
Well, I for one, refuse to be a consumer. If something's not working, the first place I'm going to look is in the mirror. How can I raise my boys in the Lord better? How can I get more out of the Word? But it doesn't stop there. As one committed to a non-consumer life, I must help others with their children, with their understanding of the Bible (without enabling them).
And remember, any attempt to compartmentalize is futile. If we actually think we can live the non-consumer life when with other believers while regularly consuming what the world has to offer, then we're mistaken. Remember, the Christian life is all-consuming; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor 5:17)
While I may or may not get the logo I want (so I can ask you all to spread the word on your websites), I can ask that we all be committed to not being consumers. Jesus told his disciples, "...the Son of Man did not come to be served , but to serve..." (a service that required his death, Mt 20:28). He also told them, "A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master" (Mt 10:24). Here's my guess. Never once did Jesus consume church services, his disciples, or the next conference. Instead, Jesus always offered himself for consumption (Jn 6:54). Should we not do the same?
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table