In my teens my parents divorced, remarried, and relocated. I was still in high school and just recently lost my football scholarship. I was in a world of emotional hurt and destruction and all alone. The next four years was devastating for me as I tried to bury all the hurt and despair I was feeling. Worse, I was succeeding very well as a carpenter in the union and had a great deal of money at a young age.
At 22 my life greatly changed. I stopped many destructive behaviors and started going to church, got married, and started a family. I began serving in the local church and went to my first Christian concert. Growing up Lutheran, I shared with my wife that I did not know if I could do this. I did not know if this would be acceptable worship to God. After all, there would be no hymnals, no pews, nobody in a robe leading worship.
At the concert, we purchased everything that they had, I believe we even sponsored a child. We felt like heroes when we left that night. We returned to our small church, and sadly it did not seem as important, it seemed small, insignificant, we now needed another big event, something to try and fill the void of having an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Soon our church was no longer enough for us. I found myself at the biggest mainline church in our area. My spouse was excited beyond measure. I found myself uncomfortable, not connecting with this culture that seemed to be in a feeding frenzy.
I had left the mainstream church, seeking out answers. Conferences no longer drew my attention as it seemed someone introduced a new model for success in ministry, as I simply became a seeker of truth. I no longer wanted to listen to a person if they were not filled with the Spirit of God and not a follower of The Way. I wanted Jesus, His Truth and nothing else. Church success no longer mattered to me. I used to make jokes of monks, now I think monks may have gotten it right.
I wish I could say, I have some knowledge. But really, I have had many questions with western church culture. I have spent a great deal of time in prayer, asking my Heavenly Father and mentors questions. I have questioned things that I have felt uncomfortable with. Through this program, it has seemed that my long list of questions has been getting answered.
Getting to the point!
In Vincent Miller’s book Consuming Religion, we have the synopsis of the fate of religion in a consumer culture. We can conclude the depravity of man and where Dallas Willard conveyed the need for spiritual transformation needed in today’s Christians. We can conclude that consumerism and capitalism is a form of idolatry that is handicapping many Christians in the church today from experiencing the fullness of God.
Miller comes to this conclusion on pg. 144. We see that consumer desires are “constituted in a never-fulfilled promise of consumption.” We can take from our prior learning on dopamine, that when we purchase new things or merchandise, a chemical is released in our brains and we feel a momentary bliss. We can come into agreement that the world is desperate and trying to purchase happiness. But the problem with this is that it wears off. We must keep purchasing, keep going to events, to find that new thing to give us momentary happiness. The problem is clearly identified on pg. 145 that “consumption has become the dominant practice for the engaging culture.”
In Dr. Clarks Evangelism and Capitalism on his prior reading assignment on pg. 176 came to a brilliant analogy Capitalism has developed into a “savage” form in which its victory over all ideologies is complete. This brings us and the church into a new opportunity to simply become aware and repent. In this place of repentance, we can come into a new place of experiencing Jesus Christ in His fullness. We experience His Joy which does not fade away. We can come to the conclusion that John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.” My spiritual father would often have me read an entire book, then summarize the book in one sentence. If I had to summarize this book for him, I would say, have we purchased so much of this world, that we have nothing left for Jesus Christ!
 Vincent Jude Miller, Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture (New York: Continuum, 2004),
 Jason Paul Clark, “Evangelism and Capitalism: A Reparative Account and Diagnosis of Pathogeneses in the Relationship” (Faculty Publications – Portland Seminary, 2018), 198, https:// digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/gfes/
6 responses to “Seekers Wanted!”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
I love how you weave in prior reading from the Molecule of More! I like how you tie in Dr. Clarks statements as well.
We must totally be in sync!! Go check out my post….John 3:30!! Bright minds think alike!
Thanks for sharing personally too. It is fun to get to know you and where God has brought you from!!
Thank you. The learnings here have greatly impacted me and answered a great deal of my “why” questions that I have had.
I have noticed that the Molecular of More really resonated with you as you have been able to pull it through several blog postings. Great job!
You had stated that: “We can conclude the depravity of man and where Dallas Willard conveyed the need for spiritual transformation needed in today’s Christians. We can conclude that consumerism and capitalism is a form of idolatry that is handicapping many Christians in the church today from experiencing the fullness of God.”
How can you use spiritual transformation to combat consumerism and idolatry in today’s culture? What does that look like to you?
You are correct in your observation on the Molecule for more. The second year of this program has been a hard self check or ego check. As I have learned, became aware, would I truly repent and live what I have learned in this program?
Often, we have opportunities to grow our ministries or organizations bigger, but is Jesus asking us to do that? Often because of our own ego’s generational strongholds do not get broken or changed. We now force our children to repent and change the strongholds we do not change.
The real challenge now, is how do I transform my church without losing everyone after going so hard with the food ministry and Evangelism? This is where pastoral ministry is so needed to gently and lovingly lead people into change. To truly be that example of Jesus Christ.
To answer your second question, how do we combat consumerism in today’s culture? The answer is spiritual disciplines. Sabbath is key, Sabbath is resistance to the consumer culture.
This fall will be 25 years in ministry. The last three years has been the most public my ministry has ever been, and also the hardest. I have come to value something more than my church, ministry, and even money. I value my Sabbath time alone with God more than Gold and Silver.
I no longer need to please my ego, more than anything, my alone time with Jesus is what matters most. I have found a 6 mile beach along the ocean. It reminds me a little of Cape Town. But I am walking with Jesus, He is meeting me in this place, I am being refreshed. In this place, I don’t need more, He satisfies me (Psalm 23).
Ministry success is no longer a worry. I just want to love my wife and kids. Give people people prophetic words and insight. For me, Sabbath is my map to success.
Greg – This is my favorite blog post from this week’s reading. Thank you for sharing the wrestling you’ve been experiencing, as I, too, have been feeling that same tension. While capitalism has proven to be a strong competitor to the mission of the church, I believe that Christ can redeem everything and use it for His purposes. I hope we can see more of this happen in our lifetime!
Greg, I love your passion and hunger for God. How do you think those early experiences with the concert, conferences, etc. impacted your life as a new Christian and your growth in Christ? Do you think they played a part in drawing you deeper into relationship with Christ in any way?