Is the Church member a Customer, Consumer or part of a Community
Church members welcomed gladly the announcement of the fresh focus on the church as a family –
“We introduced a slew of new initiatives on Sunday, 21 September 2014 which included new spaces and platforms to interact and build relationships with one another, the Prayer Request & Testimony slip, and the NCC Info Card. They are part of our continuing efforts to care for, connect with and celebrate you.”
I have to admit that since attending NCC, I miss the family spirit experienced and advocated in my previous churches. I’ve even remarked that this ‘deficiency’ in NCC could be due to the size of the congregation. Without neglecting or ignoring the scriptural principles of the community of believers, members could seek creative solutions over the practical constraints of a large mega church. I write this with deep concern, having read and studied extensively on what the scriptures teach us about the Ekklesia, the family of believers.
It is understandable that an individual might come to the community of God’s people as a consumer or customer for spiritual truth and food, but we must program and position every member / believer as a family member.
The church must anchor herself as a family –
I Cor 12:12 For … as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body—though many—are one body, so too is Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
Do we come to church as a consumer of the church’s programs?
Do we come to church a customer of what the church is marketing? (books, CD messages, DVD messages?) Are “commercials” of church products regularly marketed during church services?
Are members relating as a true community of God’s redeemed body in all the characteristics taught and exemplified in the scriptures.
Understandably, there are various dimensions and planes when people engage with one another – either one or more of the humanly social, symbiotic or structured levels. The absence of even these levels could be our lack of conviction that we are bonded spiritually with each other.
Going to church is often liken to an event or a concert where I am a stranger to those seated around me, even when I have been to the same hall and event for every Sunday service. This promotes, endorses and reinforces the individualistic culture of a highly personal Christian lifestyle and value counter to the Christian truth of the community.
How are we then to nurture this community spirit so prevalent in churches today?
Epaphroditus was a fellow brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier to Paul (Phil 2:25).
Understandably, not every believer can be a fellow worker involved in the same field of work, or a fellow soldier engaged in the same fight. But all of us are adopted by the same Father Who joined us into one family.
We need not be twins to think alike, talk alike, walk alike, function alike to be brothers. All we need is to share the same heavenly Father.
Unless we assert, affirm and apply this truth actively, consciously and consistently, we might never realize that each believer is regarded and treated as a consumer or customer of the church’s programs and products.