Sometimes I have a hard time telling the difference between the church and the movie theater. And not for the reason you might expect. It is not because I find the services of the church to be too focused on showmanship. Actually, it is the mindset of the people that gets me. People are so content to come and sit in the service, bring their snacks, hear the sermon and drive home and go about their day. People tithe like an admission ticket and return home unchanged.
We live in a culture that is dominated by consumerism. Everything is catered to the individual’s buying habits and wishes. In fact, one survey estimates that we see 5,000 ads for products a day. Many of these are subtle but effective.
We have been trained from a young age to be consumers. So naturally, when we enter the church, being a consumer in the church comes naturally.
While there is nothing wrong with buying and consuming (I happen to have a very large obsession with books and tea), we tend to develop a posture of consumerism. By posture I mean a bent, or way of living our lives. We have a tendency to make life about being catered to, waited on, and entitled.
In the church this could look like saying, “I am just looking for a place to be fed.” Being a part of a church that gives you the Word of God is a great thing, it is something I believe that Corner strives to do. But we were never meant to only sit and be fed.
Paul outlines in 1 Corinthians a much different picture for the church. He compares the church to a body. The body is made up of different parts: arms, legs, feet, toes, liver, lungs, pancreas etc. Each part has a different role. Fingers allow us to play instruments, hands allow us to love other people, lungs help us to breathe. Every part has a role.
The same is true in the church. Paul says “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). This means that all of us at Corner, regardless of background, gender, ethnicity, or whether we are pulling for the Eagles or Patriots, if we are in Christ, then we are in the same family. Not only is this true of Corner, but of every believer on the planet. Regardless of denomination. We are on the same team.
Being part of a team means that we have to work together. If you are a believer, then God has given you a spiritual gift to serve the church with. And all of them are different. Just as the hand and liver have different roles in the maintaining of our body, so do those of us who are in the body of Christ. Some are made to be teachers. Some are made to be encouragers. Some are made to be working with the children. Some fit perfect with the welcome team. Some people are specifically gifted to be prayer warriors. All gifts are needed for a church to function.
God has given the members these gifts to serve the body and build it up. So to be a consumer in the church is to go against what God intended the church to be. The body of Christ isn’t a passive thing; it is not a place to sit and listen only, rather it is a place to assimilate into and play the role that God has given you.
So don’t sit and listen only. God has gifted you to play an integral role in the church. For it is only when the church is working together in one uniform unit that our communities will be reached.