Some fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy gave his famous Inaugural Speech. The line “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” is easily identified. It was a call to sacrifice and service. As an American this is a call that we still need to hear. In a country that is showing an ever-increasing entitlement attitude, it is a needed correction.
However, my concern is with the church. I have always been uneasy with certain aspects of American church life. One of those is the consumer mentality. The consumer mentality asks what programs the church offers. The mentality is how well does it meet my needs. Questions center around what the church is offering me.
Sadly, many churches also have bought into this mentality. Churches advertise themselves based upon what services that they offer. Advertisements announce the great youth ministry filled with games, trips, and pizza; the awesome children’s group equipped with a winding slide which will bring your child into a land of fun; or maybe even a Mother’s Day out on Tuesday where you can be pampered (manicure and pedicure included). The hope is that when the consumer sees what is offered they will decide to become a part of the group.
The by-product of a consumer mentality is a lack of commitment. If church membership is about what the particular church does for me, then when that church stops meeting your needs or another church meets your needs better, then you move on. If a problem arises, then instead of working to find solutions, you move on to a new place. Church-hopping becomes the norm.
The great need in our churches today is for investors, not consumers. We need folks who stay faithful and invest their time, energy, finances, talents, personality, wisdom, and experience to do faithful gospel-centered ministry to the lost and found and accomplish the vision of world evangelism. It takes hard work and patience, but it pays off. The local church is the greatest work in the world and it deserves our full devotion.
When I read of Christ and the Early Church this is not the mentality that I see. Jesus stated that He came to serve not to be served (Mark 10:45). The Greatest in the Kingdom is the servant of all (Mark 9:35). These truths should point is to a different way of viewing being a part of a local church. Choosing and living within a church is not about what church best fits my needs, but rather where can I be most used.
Today, Missio Dei Church needs to hear, “Ask Not What the church can do for you–ask what you can do for the church.” Or as Jesus said about Himself, “we should come to serve, not be served.”
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