Slightly dramatic? Maybe or maybe not. I’ll let you decide. Can a thought process, or a certain attitude really be that harmful to the Christian community? I honestly think they can. Our thoughts and our attitudes lead to actions, which can have a positive or a negative effect on things.
Maybe your initial thought was “sure, certain thinking can hinder the church. Wrong theology, etc”. Yes, that is true. But I want to go deeper than that.
How many times have you not gone to church, or missed a prayer meeting, because you were ‘busy’. After a long day at work the last thing you want to do is open a computer screen and do a virtual Bible study, right? Or other times when you will go to church or Bible study only if there are ‘no better offers’.
Often the thinking behind these attitudes towards church, whether consciously or subconsciously, are consumerism and the thought that church is an activity rather than a family.
Christian Consumerism means that people attend church to receive and nothing more. They can sit in the service, smile at the pastor on the way out and fill the pew week in and week out. But when asked to contribute, to get involved or to change something that is precious to them, then things get rocky. The focus of a consumer Christian is only themselves.
What’s the problem with this? Well, it means that you’re not actually invested in the church, you’re not invested in the lives of your brothers and sisters in Christ. It means that your focus is not Jesus or glorifying God, but on making sure you get what you want out of church. Consumer Christianity is the result of blind individualism which says “the world must revolve around me. The minute it doesn’t, I’m off.”
The other problem that this reveals is a wrong view of church, viewing church as an activity.
For too many people the Christian faith has been reduced to mere church attendance. Sure, it’ll fill pews, it’ll make a church look ‘alive’ and it might even be attractive to visitors. But what it can produce, in my experience, is people sitting in pews who neither love nor fear the Lord. A church can be jammed, if the preacher tickles their ears. A church can be filled because Sunday attendance is a habit.
If church is nothing more than an activity, of course someone wouldn’t think twice about not being there.
I’m not saying this to be a whip which makes us go to church out of guilt, but it should make us ask ourselves: where do my priorities lie? If our priority is social interaction, if it is emotional experience or even if our priority is just to fill a few hours a week to ‘get us in God’s good books’, we’ve got a serious problem.
Why do these two things hinder the Christian community? Because they rob the body of Christ of members who have been equipped to serve and contribute. It robs people the opportunity to serve their brothers and sisters in Christ. And it robs us of the opportunity to bless others.
Church is not just another activity that fills the diary. Church is a wonderful opportunity for us to gather with the Lord’s people, to sit under the teaching of His Word, to praise Him and much more.
We need to forget about our busyness and excuses and gather with the Lord’s people to serve, to praise and to grow in spiritual maturity as we’re called to in the Bible.