October is upon us and with it brings color changes, followed by leaf raking, followed by weather changes which bring out the cold weather clothes, the ice scrapers and eventually shovels. The reality is that every season brings different challenges and change as we live in northern Minnesota.
But here is a question; are you aware of the challenges and changes that churches face in light of our changing culture? Changes in culture impact the health and effectiveness of churches. Over these next few monthly newsletters I want to highlight some of the challenges that churches are currently facing. My hope is that you would ponder these in light of how we “do church” and how we live our individual lives.
Let me give you the first challenge. Consumerism Creep! This issue that has been talked about for over 20 years. However, in those 20 years, consumerism has not gotten better; instead it is getting more sophisticated and more ingrained.
The signs of consumerism in the church world are classic: people shop for the “perfect” church and without thinking about it too deeply, they ask, “What am I getting out of this church?” or “Is it convenient for us, not taking up too much of our time?”
Think about the rise of Amazon and convenience shopping, grocery delivery and meals without prep. It has moved us away from direct people contact, even losing the simple connection with a person at the checkout line—all in the name of saving time.
The fact is we live in a very self-centered society. It is becoming unusual to see believers laying aside their interests and active lives to serve Jesus and the Kingdom. Scripture speaks to these days: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:1,4).
Have you ever wondered what the early Christians would think if they observed our culture and the many Christians whose lives are being drawn into consumerism and convenience? They believed that a church was supposed to be a place where members of a body come together for purposes beyond themselves. It was a place to join Jesus in what he was already doing in the world and to give hope to a lost world. Look at Acts 2 with the core convictions that the early church embraced and compare those to our world.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common.They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)
Let me ask a final question—Should we give up on these early church convictions in the name of convenience, a busy schedule and a world that is changing so quickly? Thoughts?