Thursday, July 12, 2007

Selling Death

In my last post (linked in the title), I admitted that I've grown tired of both the church shoppers and the church marketers of our day. When I hear someone ask, "What does your church have to offer me or my family?", it's all I can do not to jet plasma in a hair sizzling tirade that would leave him or her smoldering and even balder than certain elders I know. It's not like it's anything new, Jesus had to put up with the same kind of self-centeredness, but that doesn't make it easier to take. What consumer benefits a church might offer has nothing at all to do with whether or not it is the place God desires a believer to be in order to grow and serve (or should I say serve and grow). God has a divine appointment for each of us. Our goal should be to find the place God wants us, and then with patience and grace, serve God and our brothers and sisters until (and if) God appoints us some place else. We certainly have no right to trash our brothers and sisters and divorce ourselves from the fellowship of the saints because we've decided we can be better served someplace else. God is the one who has made us parts of the body and he alone gets to appoint us to our place in the body.

What business does any church leader have, then, of dangling a carrot, trying to coax a believer to make a decision about where they belong on a basis other than God's appointment? Churches solicit suitors like Tamar enticed Judah, and then wonder why, when it's time to pay the piper, church folk are no different than the rest of our hedonistic, consumer driven society. If we tickle the flesh to get them in, we'll get nothing but a giggle from them when they're called called upon to be counted.

The gospel is good news and needs to be heard by everyone, but embracing it means buying into your own death. The old-fashioned notion of fire and brimstone is unpopular these days because it's just not marketable. I don't care for it myself, it doesn't reflect biblical preaching in my mind, but the biblical message isn't any more comfortable. I'm left dumbfounded, wondering how such a thing as church marketing can even exist? It's not just oxymoronic, it's plain old moronic too! No, it's even worse, it's faithless, and it's ruining the heritage of God.

So, on either side of the church marketing equation, I see problems-- whether on the side of self-centered consumers or on the side of ravenous church hawkers. We will reap what we sow. What will that mean if we go on trying to corner the market, establishing our little fiefdoms, building cathedrals of wood, hay and stubble, all the while never truly perceiving that what we actually have to sell is death?