As the husband grabs his bible and a cup of coffee he yells out to his wife. “Hurry up honey, we’re going to be late for church!” “Coming!” she responds with her Bible under her arm as she grabs her cup of coffee. “I am looking forward to finishing up this sermon series on the dangers of consumerism within the church”, he explains to his wife. “It has really been an eye opener to see how the church has fallen into the consumer mindset and become so self-focused.” His wife agrees, as they both ease back into their recliners to watch the live stream from their local church, located less than 3 miles away. Though this is a fictitious account something similar happens every Sunday somewhere in America. If I was going to be brutally honest, I would have to admit I have done something similar in the past when fighting sickness or when trying to recover from an over committed lifestyle.
It appears watching church via computer stream from the comfort of your own living room isn’t the only way consumerism has entered the church. At Daytona Beach Drive-In Christian Church in Florida one can visit the church without even leaving their car. All you have to do is tune your radio to the correct channel and listen along with everyone else at the drive in. Even the communion service is in the privacy of your car. While the instructions are heard over the radio the parishioners partake in the elements provide in little plastic containers holding a sip of juice with wafers attached to the top of the container. For those desiring a more personal touch they can leave their cars and go to what use to be the drive-in concession stand for doughnuts and fellowship. As can be seen the limits of the consumer church model are only limited by one’s imagination and the proposed need it fills. It is often about convenience and personal preference. From seeker services that are more entertainment that substance to drive thru wedding chapels consumer religion is a reality that needs to be faced.
Dr. Jason Clark in his doctoral thesis entitled Evangelicalism and Capitalism: A reparative account and diagnosis of pathogeneses in the relationship when looking at the challenges that Evangelicalism faces as it relates to Capitalism states “Whereas community and religious groups previously met psychological needs, consuming has taken the place of producing well-being.” “This commitment to the agency of the self makes the sustaining of religious communities almost impossible.” According to Vincent Miller when looking at the concept of commodification when we treat religion as a commodity it loses its “power to inform the concrete practices of life.” The problem with consumer religions is “that it does not consist in a definable set of beliefs and ideologies that Christianity can counter. Rather, it is at heart a way of relating to beliefs. So often we think that if we identify the incorrect belief around us, we can counter them with the correct beliefs”
It’s hard to combat a moving target. As innovative ideas increase, and we are inundated with constant change is it almost impossible possible to keep up? What is it that can keep us grounded? What is it about the consumer religion that steals out hearts and lures us away from deep community? For many the idea of gathering together as believers on Sunday has become optional. It is just one choice among many. In a culture where many youth sports are a main Sunday morning event how does a family support the sporting talents of our children and maintain the priority of Sunday worship? Especially if the right amount of talent can lead to a college scholarship. How did the gathering together as believers go from being the best choice on Sunday mornings to just a mere option? According to Dr. Clark the answer in part lies in understanding the historical church, with all its flaws. With that understanding we don’t ignore the challenges and concerns over the current church process we instead turn our attention to what is being done right. The key is in somehow avoiding a chosen blindness to the mistakes and frailties of the church and not becoming overtly pessimistic and negative about the future of the church. Clark suggests a deeper sense of church. A church that understands the function of the past church and one that is fully present in today’s culture. It is important for churches to bring back a sense of deep community. How can this be done when many aspects of consumerism seem to offer a competing aspect of community? Has the American church become just another social club? Is the answer to offer more and bigger programs? The church is still the barer of the good news of the gospel. Jesus alone is the answer to sin. How can we as Christians embrace the beautiful diversity and depth of the church as a loving community despite its frailties and challenges?
“Wow, that was sure a good word from the pastor today” the husband exclaims as he heads to the kitchen for another cup of coffee. “It was quite convicting!” “Yes, it was” his wife responses. “Hey if we hurry, we can head to the Original Pancake House and beat the church crowd.” “After that maybe we can go shopping in the mall.” “Great idea” the wife agrees. “Did you notice the cute outfit the pastor’s wife had on today! Maybe I can find one in my size.”
 Clark, JP. 2018. Evangelicalism and Capitalism: Middlesex University (PhD. Thesis) Retrieved at www.acedemia.edu/39771727/EVANGELICALISM_AND_CAPITALISM_A_reparative_account_and_diagnosis_of_pathogeneses_in_the_realtionship. 182
 Clark. 182
 Vincent Miller. Consuming Religion. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group. 2005. 12
 Scot McKnight, Peter Rollins, Kevin Corcoran and Jason Clark. Church in the Present Tense: A Candid Look at What’s Emerging. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press. 2011. 42
 Scot McKnight. 49-50