In today's devotional from Ravi Zacharias Ministries, "Consuming Church," Margaret Manning laments the pervasive consumerism of society and its infiltration of the church. She says:
But what has a consumer-driven mentality done to the way in which we participate in and view the church? Our casual language about “church shopping” belies one of the more subtle impacts. No longer do we see the church as the organic representation of Christ’s body, Christ’s mission in which we are joined as “members,” but we are instead “shoppers” examining who has the best product. How many programs does this church offer? What about the quality of the music program? And how about the preaching? Is it relevant and does it speak to my life, my circumstances? Do I leave Sunday worship feeling better and happier?
I know this is a danger, and perhaps it's an old story. Church marketing techniques are well-known, and often success is measured by "sales," that is, people in the pews, but I am concerned more with what to do about this tidal wave in my own life and, beyond that, for culture at large. When consuming is how I was reared, is what I know, is what is preached to me from every billboard, TV screen, movie, web page, and urinal (yes, ladies, they even put ads in there), how do I unlearn what has become a way of life? And beyond that, how does an economy like ours return to an emphasis not primarily on consuming but on producing and saving? I often sense that if I do not continue to spend, the economy will grind to a halt, if we don't keep borrowing money and spending then the GNP will sink, and we'll end up in another Great Depression.
But then I know I haven't a lick of economic sense. I haven't the slightest idea what to do about the economy, how to get us out of this enslavement to consumption. All I know is that it can't be right, can't be all there is to living in the world.
Take stock. Look around. There are a lot of things that bring joy and pleasure in life that you didn't pay for, that you can't buy. Maybe I just need to look at those things more --- the moon above the pine trees, my family moving through our home, sunlight through a window, a cardinal on the feeder, the chatter of the neighbor's children playing, crisp air, and unmerited grace. The things I tend to love so much pale in comparison.