In Western Civilization, specifically the United States, we live in an age of consumerism. Take a walk down a grocery aisle and look at the choices we have. Let’s just start with tomatoes. You have a choice between grape, cherry, Roma, Heirloom, Big Boys and more, then with each of the varieties you have vine-ripened, greenhouse, organic, etc. Move to the center of the store and you come to the breakfast aisle – how many different kinds of granola do we really need? I could go on and mention the “Coke” (soda or pop for those outside of the Southern US) aisle. We could also go down the paper product aisle and have the same dilemma. We face manifold choices everywhere we turn.
Outside of the grocery store we could consider clothing options, house hunting, cars, trucks, or shoes. Even in my own closet there are too many choices of clothes, shoes, socks, and ties. Too many choices!
This consumer mentality has an impact on the Church.
Yesterday afternoon, I listened as the radio host talked about how after a few months in a new town, that he and his family finally decided on a home church. The host and his cohost then asked their listeners to chime in on how they chose a church. The answers I heard were:
- They had the best doughnuts.
- They have a barista / coffee shop.
- They had cold cans of Diet Coke.
- The sermon that morning touched me, I felt like God was speaking to my prayer.
- They had bagels and a selection of cream cheese spreads
- The worship / worship team / worship band was really good.
- I felt welcomed.
- My cousin looked for a place that needed a left-handed first baseman for their softball team.
Everything I heard was some statement of consumerism that said, “They had what I wanted.”
They had what I wanted?!
Is that how we are to choose a church? Are my desires and wants all that makes a church valid or relevant? I started thinking, “What church would Paul, Peter, Barnabas, Luke, John, Cornelius, Dorcas, Aquila and Pricilla, Philip, Jude, James, Timothy, Philemon, or Titus choose? What would these earliest of Christians look for in a church?
Maybe the answer to that question lies in the words of the One they called themselves by. Maybe the words of Christ have the answer to what church they would choose. I know, there was only one choice then. The different denominations had not developed. What we know as Catholicism did not exist yet. Each cell of believers followed the teachings of the Apostles and others who received inspiration from God. I know that they would listen to Christ above all and test every message with what they knew from God. Maybe we need to listen and follow the same message they had and only the same message they had. Maybe, just maybe God’s Word should be the deciding factor of what church I am a part of. Maybe I should look for a church that follows God’s Word – whether they have good coffee or not.
A sobering passage:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:21-23.
It is not my choice of churches that matters, it is what God chose for the church to be that is that truly matters. Am I looking for a church that “does the will of (the) Father in heaven?”