In the last post, we saw how the Chinese Communists defeated the Chinese Nationalists without guns or money. They defeated them with superior ideas, and their victory became the prototype of guerrilla resistance for the 20th century.
When defeated in war, the vanquished have two options. They can be subsumed into the dominant culture of the victorious; or they can do what we saw the Chinese do in the last post; withdraw to the hills, mourn their losses, discover their superior truths, and reemerge as a guerrilla force later.
We American Christians have been defeated in the culture wars. It appears that many of us are opting for the former; being absorbed into the dominant culture.
The dominant culture in America is consumerism. We sell each other stuff, but not in the “capitalist” way we used to. Consumerism is hybrid of capitalism. Capitalists find a need and fill it efficiently. Consumerists create a desire and sell to it. It sounds like a subtle difference, but it is fact, quite profound.
We Americans train one another to develop a series of insatiable desires, and then go find a product that will satiate them.
Our economy has been successful enough that most of our physical needs are met. Only a few of us suffer malnutrition or starvation. Only a few of us die of exposure. Most of us have our basic human needs met. Consequently, to keep growing, our economic engine had to switch gears. It began to sell us desires.
– “You need to live in a neighborhood with granite countertops.”
– “You need this latest electronic widget! It’s processor is even faster!”
– “This book (or group, or class, or speaker) will help you feel better about yourself.”
– “Buy it (or him, or her)!”
That’s consumerism. We don’t even call ourselves “citizens” any more. We call ourselves “consumers.” During this election, we hear all the time that 70% of our economy depends on you and me buying stuff. If we’re in economic downturn, it’s our fault.
And consumerism won the culture wars.
So, the Church has a choice. Be absorbed into the dominant culture…
– or do what the Chinese guerrillas did.
It appears over the last 30 years or so, that many Christian churches chose the former. Years ago, we began to market the church as a product to meets the needs and desires of a consumer public.
– “Come to our church and get to heaven.”
– “Come to our church and meet a better quality of friends.”
– “Come to our church and we’ll help you have a better family, be happier.”
Consequently, to compete in the marketplaces, churches have felt a lot of pressure to offer a smorgasbord of products:
– groups and activities for every age, need, and interest.
In my lifetime, church members have been reduced to clients consuming services. Church planning has shifted its focus to demographic targets that will increase market share. Church members have become increasingly passive as our needs have been serviced by a professional ministry class.
I’m suggesting in this series of posts… we went with the wrong option.