Market mentality in modern religion (Hugh Fulford)
Hugh Fulford wrote today in detail about how he and his wife like the new Kroger Marketplace. Then he makes a spiritual application:
Modern religion in many respects has mimicked modern marketing techniques. Churches now strive to meet all the “felt needs” of their constituents and prospective constituents. In effect, they have become religious supermarkets. They build kitchens, fellowship halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, spas, and bowling alleys. They install coffee bars and juice bars. They sponsor softball teams, baseball teams, basketball teams, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, fitness programs, drama productions, and dance classes. (Yep, one church of Christ in Texas a few years ago conducted a Monday night class on Ballroom Dancing.) They conduct financial seminars, retirement planning seminars, AA classes, divorce recovery classes, weigh-down programs, and all kinds of self-help programs. Counseling is available on a wide variety of matters.
The subliminal message that is sent by all of this activity is that “we may be a church, but we are not a bunch of stuffy old religious fuddy-duddies; we are as ‘cool’ as any social or civic club in town, so come on down and join us, and we’ll show you how church can be fun” (in other words, we really won’t “preach” to you all that much)! Some churches have bought into the notion that “if we build it, they will come,” only to be terribly disappointed that not only did they not come and the church did not grow, but it actually declined, leaving it with a big debt and facilities that are unneeded and unused.
Don’t misunderstand me. Some of the above things are good. I’m not against helping people live more fruitful, productive, happy lives. Our world is in a mess and many people’s lives are in a mess, including the lives of many who are Christians. But we need to remember that Christ came into the world to save sinners (I Timothy 1:15). He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came to call sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:12-13). In Him alone can mankind find redemption (Acts 4:11-12). The gospel of Christ is God’s only power to save (Romans 1:16). Without obedience to the gospel, a person is eternally lost in torment (II Thessalonians 1:6-9). The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15). If the church does not preach the gospel to sinners, who will? If the church does not concern itself with the mission that was the mission of Christ, who will? The church is the manifestation of the manifold (multi-faceted) wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10). It has a greater and more enduring purpose than simply helping people enjoy a better life here on earth. How unutterably sad it is when spiritually hungry people ask for a fish and are given a stone instead.
I love our new Kroger Marketplace and all that it has to offer. I love churches that are committed to Christ, to the practice of New Testament Christianity, and to the mission that Christ gave to His disciples. That mission is clearly spelled out in Matthew 28:18-20.