September 3, 2009
And the Winners Are...
Urbanites answer, "What is Consumer Christianity?"
Last month we invited Urbanites to answer this question: What is Consumer Christianity? Your response has been surprising and creative. Some submitted definitions, others sent in pictures that made us laugh and grieve. A few even composed songs and lyrics. Thanks to everyone who participated.
We've selected some of the best entries for everyone to see and read--from Jesus bandages to God gum. And those who engaged will be receiving a free copy of Skye Jethani's book, The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity.
Keep reading to see the winning submissions.
“Consumer Christianity” what can it be?
Charging money to set yourself free?
Maybe it’s Jesus in plastic and chrome,
A retailer trying to place Him in your home.
Buying and selling – it’s the American way,
But should Christ be marketed? What do you say?
Stop and listen to this simple ode –
Should Jesus be stamped with a big bar code?
Much like Luther detested the indulgence,
Giving of money to sooth the bad conscience;
Consumer religion has been around for some time;
Like Demetrius, a Silversmith, offering Diana for a dime.
But Christianity – does the same rule apply?
Should we sell Christ or His cross or weeping eye?
Should we offer a pass from purgatory --
For so much money your loved ones reach glory…
Should I start on Christmas, retailers best friend?
Where does this consumer mentality end?
Even Easter, the crosses with glittering diamond and gold –
Does this get the old, old story told?
No – we deck self and home with junk bright and hoary,
And speak not a word about Christ and His story.
God forgive us for buying into the world’s madness,
For not thinking of Your glory – surely bring you great sadness.
Over 100 words, but I don’t need another book…
Submitted by LB Yates
I am stuck on Jesus' brand, cause Jesus' stuck with me.
I prayed a salvation prayer, I’m safe for eternity!
It won’t rub off and it won’t fall off,
I’m religious all the time...
I am stuck on Jesus' brand, ‘cause it centers around me!
Submitted by Chad Estes
With no commentary about the contents themselves, this medium communicates how we've come to understand salvation as a transaction, much like we would swipe a credit card to purchase a product.
Submitted by Adam Graber
Consumer Christianity is a religion that claims that the customer (seeker, congregant, member, attendee, . . . etc) is king, the customer is therefore the object of worship. The Church must supply whatever the customer wants. This is not a version of Christianity—it is a non-Christian Religion—in Christianity, the Triune God is King; and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are worshipped. The Church is here to represent the reign of God to the world.
Submitted by Barb S. Murphy
Consumer Christianity is an attempt of the Church to capitalize on the culture of marketing in the name of Christ. The community of Christ followers is replaced by a business model, featuring a CEO and Board, that must keep its customers satisfied in order to achieve desired growth. Little attention is paid to issues of theology, the tradition of historical Christianity, or any other elements that would discourage people from patronizing the business.
Submitted by Jonathan A. Aigner
Consumer Christianity: 1: a divergent form of Christianity categorized by the belief that individual satisfaction is the primary purpose of church-based worship; 2: the public use of products incorporating Christian scripture or imagery, with the intent of declaring or affirming the user's Christian faith; 3: a branch of the Prosperity Gospel, categorized by the belief that acts perceived as holy will result in physical rewards from God; 4: the belief that wearing a "John 3:16" shirt is equivalent to carrying out faith through deeds.
Submitted by Elly Runnalls
Christian Consumerism is the mentality that regards church as a provider of a range of essential Christian services. Loyalty to and support of a particular church is based on the quality of these service provisions rather than an understanding that church is a place to serve. “To be served and not to serve” could well be the motto that describes this expectation of church. The precise services that are valued change according to age and life circumstance. Church loyalty can be switched easily when a better or more attractive service provider is found.
Submitted by Stan Fetting
Consumer Christianity is a faith system whose focus is me and us, emphasizing doing over being. It stresses how I (we) can become (fill in the blank) rather than the Kingdom of God. Jesus is our example rather than our life. The Father is the one who gives rather than the Creator whom I love. The Holy Spirit is my unseen power rather than the One who unites, leads, and reveals. Faith is my currency rather than my relationship with God. And the church is the place I do “spiritual business.” Consumer Christianity is organization not organism.
Submitted by Charlie Robinson
Consumer Christianity - the notion that God exists to fulfill our plans rather than the other way around.
Submitted by Paul Steinbrueck
Submitted by Shan Wattnem
Consumer Christianity: A form of Christianity that allows one to be a Jesus-follower without being a count-the-cost-disciple first. These are typified by their desire for "better worship," non-threatening messages, and a call for relativity rather than radicalism
Submitted by Tim Magnuson
Consumer Christianity is a contest wherein I am asked to express my opinion as part of a gimmicky sales ploy, subtly reinforcing the dominant (idolatrous) cultural narrative that all definitions in life are up to me.
Submitted by Scott Marshall
Consumer Christianity: A T-shirt marketed to tweens that says "Jesus is my BFF!" and the 25 year-old male that owns it. (It stings a little less when I divulge that I'm a youth pastor...)
Submitted by Jake Bouma
Consumer Christianity is when a faith journey is substituted with a faith activity, a sacrifice of servant worship is replaced by a ceremony without sacrifice, a life of discipleship is relegated to a curriculum on following Jesus, and the covenantal love of a prodigal God (LORD) has been bastardized to the mere romantic satiation of our own spiritual lusts and expectations. In other words, Consumer Christianity is ultimately a misbegotten compromise of what Jesus, the Christ/Messiah, intended for His followers.
Submitted by Kevin Neuner