Jesus: From Lord to Label

Skye Jethani wrote a very interesting article for Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal (Summer 2006) titled, “iChurch: All We Like Sheep – Is our insistence on choices leading us astray?”. 

This article does not address technology per se, but it does hit very hard on cultural trends, and in particular the culture of “Christian” suburban America, of which, technology plays a role.  While very witty and amusing in parts, he does ask some very difficult questions and raise important issues for our awareness.  These are issues that I believe we need to consider and pray about; both in terms of how we may be caught up in this consumer-based culture and what our responsibilities are to those who may come to worship with us and be a part of our church family.

While he doesn’t come out and state it, I don’t believe he is advocating a return to pre-industrial revolution times.  I do believe we need to pray and seek understanding from the Holy Spirit as to how we are to serve God in our culture.  Is there a place were being “relevant” goes too far? If so, how do we know where that line is?  Would we recognize it if we crossed it? 

What will the church look like in another 25 years?  Certainly it will not be the same as today nor should it, unless that is what God wants.  But we do need to consider prayerfully where the church should go.  As Skye mentions in his article,

Ironically, this demand for choice that has fueled the consumer church may ultimately be its undoing. According to George Barna’s book, Revolution,20 million Americans are no longer satisfied with the options available at institutional churches. Instead they’re “choosing from a proliferation of options, weaving together a set of favoredalternatives into a unique tapestry that constitutes the personal’church’ of the individual.”

It’s the logical conclusion of consumer Christianity: iChurch.

The new breed of Christian consumers, Barna’s”revolutionaries,” customize discipleship the way iPod users customize a playlist. They might find encouragement at a community support group, worship at a Third Day concert, listen to a podcast sermon, and read about the topic of the day at the Christian bookstore. While the churches we’ve known it fades into memory like vinyl LPs.”

Technology in and of itself is not corrupt. Many good things are accomplished by technology. But technology itself doesn’t DO anything. It is an enabler. It allows people to accomplish things that otherwise were not possible, both for good and for evil.  We need discernment by the Holy Spirit to know the difference. We also need, more than ever, to stay aware of and be students of our culture. But we also need to be students of the Bible and God’s will for our lives and our culture.  If we focus too heavily on our culture and not God’s Word, we will follow others down a path of self gratification and destruction. If we ignore our culture and don’t try to communicate the Good News in a way that is understandable to the lost of this generation, we also are being too self serving.

These are tough times with tough questions about the culture we live in and how to effectively be “in the world, but not of it”. 

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