There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

Consumers vs. disciples: a more adversarial relationship than perhaps we thought

Jim Dennison is the pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church and writes a daily devotional entitled Godissues.org. Click there to subscribe.

This morning he speaks, I think, most aptly to our condition:

Consumers don’t make good disciples

Yesterday we began thinking about the folly of fighting your Goliath in your strength. As we saw, Alan Wolfe’s The Transformation of American Religion warns that many of us are consumers more than we are disciples, self-reliant rather than God-sufficient

For instance, one-third of Americans subscribe to the proposition that “people have God within them, so churches aren’t necessary” (p. 38). The day of denominational loyalty is largely over. Now people join a church that meets their needs—whatever they are, whatever the church is

Here’s an example. Gwinnett County, in suburban Atlanta, was for many years the fastest-growing county in the United States. In 1929, a town in that county named Dacula was 65.8 percent Baptist and 31 percent Methodist. Now its denominations include Christian and Missionary Alliance, Anglican, Assembly of God, Church of Christ, Christian Science, Episcopal, Nazarene, Presbyterian, independent Full Gospel fellowships, Southern and Independent Baptist, United Methodist, and African Methodist Episcopal. Not to mention the Eastern Orthodox, Unitarian, Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Hindu residents of the town, nor parts of a Wiccan coven or feminist spirituality groups (p. 112)

A group of church members were surveyed regarding the purpose of the church; 90 percent of the members said the purpose of the church is to meet members’ needs—10 percent said it is to fulfill the Great Commission. Only 25 percent of self-described evangelicals knew the Great Commission (p. 205).

Christians want to meet the needs of our members and community, of course. Jesus always started with felt need and moved to spiritual need. The woman at the well came for water, so Jesus started there and led her to spiritual water

The problem comes when our faith becomes more about us than our Lord. When we ask God to help us solve our problems in our strength. When we want him to bless our decisions and our actions. When he becomes a means to our end, serving us. When we go to battle with our weapons and strategy, our strength and soldiers, and ask him to help us succeed. He is God and we are not.

What do we do then?

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