Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm Protestant, Therefore I Shop?

In his post entitled “Ecclesial Consumerism vs. Ecclesial Unity,” Covenant-Seminary-graduate-turned-Catholic Bryan Cross writes:
One is an ecclesial consumerist if one's decision regarding which "church"
to attend is based on anything other than this question: Which institution is
the one founded by the incarnate Christ?
While I appreciate Cross’s attack upon ecclesial consumerism as well as the humble and irenic manner by which he argues his position, I must question, from the perspective of my own experience, the simplistic and reductionistic nature of this statement.

For my own part, one of the things I appreciate about Reformed ecclesiology in general (as well as my own church’s worship in particular, if I may toot my own horn) is the very fact that that we refuse to give people what they want, and instead insist on giving them what they need, even if this results in a lesser degree of “success” as defined by American evangelical criteria. In other words, there are certain things that I, individually speaking, would want in a church, such as an elaborate children’s program, professional-sounding music, and messages that tickle my (fallen) sensibilities as well as funny bone.

You know, like Mark Driscoll does.

But despite the pressure to grow in terms of both nickels and noses, faithful Reformed churches have deliberately and decidedly determined not to give ecclesial consumerists what they want. Do we claim to be the church that Jesus founded? Not exactly. But have we therefore fallen prey to the consumerism that characterizes churches like Saddleback or Mars Hill?

Not by a long shot.