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Friday, July 8, 2011

Just a thought or two: Consumers of Faith

How do we choose our religion or denomination?A few days ago I was involved in a chat with some marketers, and a discussion ensued about whether buying was driven by emotion or logic. And, if marketers could get a handle on that, should they strive to push one button more often than another, or try to touch both segments? Is there a difference between the emotional buyers and the logical buyers.

The bottom line question was:  Why do we buy?

Now your question is to me is, "What does that have to do with this blog or discussion about faith?"

Although it is much debated, I think we all know that we buy things out of emotion, whether we wish to admit this to ourselves or not. After we have made our emotional decision to purchase something, our minds then go to work to layer logic over it, so it “feels” better. We buy because we feel we “need” things (as opposed to wanting them). We buy to support a cause, or an idea. We buy out of impulse. Just take a careful look at all the useless and unused items laying around our houses.

QVC gives us an example, I think, of buying out of the need to belong; not even the need for the stuff. I’m not bashing QVC, I'm using them as an example, so don’t write me about that. If you are not a regular buyer, just think how many times you have flipped past their channel to hear some “regular” or "ordinary" person going on and on about how they bought some thing in every available color or style. (We should have some many testimonies and testimonials in church!)

I contend that it is not because they needed that particular purse in 14 colors, but because they want to be an “insider,” they wish to be perceived as cool and "in the know," whatever…

We are a nation of consumers. Most often we think of this word in terms of buying, but look at it carefully. It also conveys a message of using something up.

So, what does that have to do with religion?
Nothing. And everything. And it made me really think about how we tend to approach religion and worship.

Like everything else, we are emotional consumers of religion. That doesn’t sound so bad on the surface, because we should be seeking an emotional connection with God and with each other. But that’s not really what we do, is it? We go to worship experiences and stay until we feel we have used them up, until they have lost their flavor, and then-

  • We hop from church to church looking for the next emotional high.

  • We move on when we get bored with the worship leader, "they’ve lost their edge."

  • We change churches because the worship music isn’t to our liking…any more.

  • We leave because the service lasts too long, “And, oh my God, I’m going to kill myself if one more person goes up to the microphone!”

  • We move because the church down the street “gets it,” whatever “it” happens to be this year.

  • We move because our neighbors found a cooler place for themselves and their children; and we need to make better social connections

  • We use TV and social media to tap into the next celebrity preacher. (Do those words even go together?)

  • We don’t like the people we worship with any more. They’ve become stale, boring and stupid.

  • We move on because our parent's faith and worship is “old and moldy." We reason that if its boring us, it must surely be boring God to tears.

  • We move because the place we are at isn’t serving our needs anymore
And while all of these issues may be valid on some level……..

Have you noticed that I have not mentioned anything about God, serving God, worshiping God or honoring God?

Our faith and worship cannot and should not be driven by this consumerism mentality. Serving God has little to do with logic, everything to do with emotion, and nothing to do with consumerism. And, that is what we are here for, isn't it? To serve God?

God requires 3 things of us: justice, mercy and humility. See Micah series, here

Christ left two commandments: Love God and love each other. 

The Bible does not say anything about finding the perfect place with the perfect people who will fit in perfectly with my schedule. We are all imperfect and we need to get back to putting first things first.

The mission is first: become more Chris-like. [link

The (Great) Commission is second: Go out...

Simply put: Work where you are planted. God will order your steps and move you as He needs you to be moved.

I’ll finish up with a personal illustration: For most of the past 5 or so years I have attended a Baptist church. This is not too surprising, since I grew up Bapti-costal. However, through a series of events when I moved here, I attended a United Methodist Church for the 10 years prior. I got to know a lot of great people, made many wonderful friends, got involved in the life of the church, taught a lot, learned a lot, was exposed to WillowCreek…having a great time. God, in so many little ways, began to point my heart and my mind back to my roots, and toward some people not doing so well. So he sent me home to help, and to apply the knowledge that I had acquired in the interim.

Am I happy all the time? Of course not. Is it perfect? No! Is it easy? Hardly!! But in spite of a relocation that I would not have chosen for myself, I can still echo James when he says that we should "count it all joy!"

  • Why do attend to the "church of your choice?"
  • Are you there to serve or be served?

Comments? Thoughts?

Have a great day!
[In the future, we will talk about the difference between happy and joy.]


Bkangel said...

I am a prime example of being where I never could have thought of being. Both in my personal life & religious life. My church home is non-denominational & now I attend a STRICTLY BAPTIST, NOTHING BUT THE BAPTIST WHEN IT SUITS ME CHURCH! I came in the door of my Baptist Church being welcomed by the congregation, one by one, but very slowly. Luckily I wasn't there for the people of the church, but for my Love & Need of God! Of course if I was there for any other reason, I would be a church hopper! We must keep our minds focused on what he wants from & of us: SERVANTS of HIS!

Doc said...

Yes, we are there to serve God and care for and about His people.
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.