Ask not what your church can do for you...
Above all, remember that your struggles are for the sake of our Lord Jesus
John Chrysostom, Fourth Century Pastor
President John F. Kennedy is famous for his challenge of the American people: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but consider what you can do for the country." The young president perceived that as America was comining into its own, that its citizenry began to develop a sense of entitlement, over a sense of community. Americans were more likely to inquire about what they could get, than what could be shared or how to help one another.
Consumerism is the hallmark of the American psyche. Our overall health, is measured by our government in regards to how much we spend and how much we are able to consume. The more we consume, the more profit is made, which in turn leads to more jobs which allows more spending. You see the pattern. It is so normative that we as Americans, assume it not only to be the best economic model, but in many ways sacralize capitalism.
Consumerism comes into direct conflict with the teachings of the Jesus and the early church. Yet, the church has been shaped by consumerism in ways that simply reduces the church to a provider of religious goods, instead of a community centered on the person of Jesus. We chose to attend churches based upon what they "offer" instead of being called into a community. The early church was described as the "ekklesia" which means "assembly of the called". The local church is a body of people called together by Jesus for the purpose to live out His mission together.
People leave churches for a variety of reasons. Some very valid, but mostly they are consumeristic values. "I want a church that has a better children's ministry". "I need a more contemporary music ministry." "City Megachurch Pastor has the annointing and I want to be under his annointing". Rarely, have I heard a single person say, I am leaving because Jesus is calling me to participate in this or that community. Church is not just a provider of programs in which you choose like you are in the ala carte line of a cafeteria. That approach is consumerism speaking, not Christ.
This is not an excuse for Church's not to have a sense of excellence. No matter what size or shape a community is in, everything it does should be of high standards, as it reflects the glory of God (Col 3:23). Yet, we must change the fundamental relationship of the membership within the community, from consumers to communers. Those who focus on community above consuming goods and services.
Are you called to you community? What is your commitment level towards others in your community of faith? How invested are you in giving of yourself, rather than receiving.
Rephrasing President Kennedy, ask ntow hat your church can do for you, but consider what you can do with your church.
May God bless you and your called community this day,
Pastor M Traylor