Check out this interesting commentary by Skye Jethani on consumerism in the church in this short video:
I think he raises an interesting point about the assumed cultural values the medium of our church experience communicates. If Sunday morning church experiences are dedicated to the “entertainment” and “comfort” of the parishioner, then it is no surprise that eventually many people will just stop attending church. When the pastor says something that makes Suzy uncomfortable or when the praise leader fails to entertain Sam or when the parking lot gets too full for Sally or the children’s ministry makes Samantha’s kid cry, church no longer meets our needs.
As a church planter trying to recruit a launch team, I feel like I have to cater to people’s needs. If I don’t, no one will come. I have to sell people on an experience. Ultimately though I want to sell people on God not comfort. In Christian community I believe God is alive and available, but I don’t believe it needs to be a comfortable experience. Christian community that brings God to life is the often times the hard kind of community that happens when people get close to one another. God comes alive in the context of frustration with your friend that flows into forgiveness. God comes alive when godly people learn to extend grace after a gaffe. God comes alive in the uncomortable parts of our lives. When people commit to one another in the name of Jesus and stick together through the good and the bad that is when God comes alive.
I believe church is a compelling place to be, but not because it is comfortable. Church is compelling because its a place people can meet God. The transcendent presence of God is compelling no matter how bad your parking situation may be, because it meets a core human need. When a community practices the lay-down-your-life kind of love for one another that Jesus taught us, God is there. And, a community where God is present meets a core need that every person has.