Tuesday, December 02, 2008

MASS-Marketing

Mass-Marketing affects us all, and seems to touch our lives in so many ways. It infiltrates our homes, our cars, our places of employment, our schools, and even our places of recreation. I guess that is why it is called "mass-marketing."

It has also entered into our most hallowed of spaces, the church.

As I was reading over this coming Sunday's Scripture text, John 2:13-25, where Jesus enters into the courtyard of the Temple and begins to clear it of those selling there, I realized how not much has changed over the years. It seems every so often another 'Temple clearing" is needed.

Now, this next paragraph may seem a little convoluted, but for the sake of argument allow me some room here, and of course I invite your thoughts, and questions of clarification.

So, we are awaiting the arrival of that very special day of the year, Christmas. The word derives from the celebrating the Mass of Christ. Mass being that aspect of worship whose main focus is the celebrator of the Lord's Table. Thus, we can say that the Mass is the service of worship, and Mass-marketing is when we begin to market and sell worship so to meet the needs of those attending. That is, we get the focus off the Lord of the Table and on to those who attend it (that would be you and me.) Following? I pray so. ;o)

For too long, the church has been involved in Mass-marketing, the creating of a "worship experience" whose purpose is to meet the needs of the buyers (the congregation) and the sellers (the clergy and organized religion). We have taken the focus off the One who we are to worship, and we have turned our services into places of need-meeting, rather than of simple, prayer-full worship.

As we celebrate this Advent season, it is time not only to watch out for the ploys of mass-marketing and the over-spending that is often attached to it, but we also need to be wary of the Mass-marketing that has attached itself to our faith.

Christmas is the time for us to re-focus our worship upon the One who alone is worthy of our worship. The One who not only cleared the Temple, but who called us to a relationship with the Father, a relationship most intimately developed in and through the discipline of prayer.

4 comments:

trinity said...

good thoughts, or sad thoughts, but glad your thinking about them.

Anonymous said...

You may recall one of Jesus’ statements was, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I say?” One answer to this statement/question might be, “Because it is easier to worship you than to think about doing what you have said to do.”

Christmas has become a traditional time to buy presents for our friends and loved ones and to give them to each other on the birthday of him who said to his followers to “Sell what you have.” This is kind of ironic, in a sense. I know presents are given to others on Christ’s birthday with love and thoughtfulness.” What would Christmas become without the exchange of gifts?

This is a contradictory thought for pondering. It’s the commercial aspect of Christmas that doesn’t belong in our temple, I think. Your comment on clearing the temple brought this to mind. Gary

Anonymous said...

The problem as I see it (just semantics – I’m sure we are talking about the same thing) is when the church in fact FAILS to meet the needs of those attending because the focus is on meeting the "WANTS" of those in attendance. Too often churches end up with congregations who are malnourished spiritually, nevertheless glutted and overstuffed with “junk” spiritual food.

From not emphasizing the need for sexual purity to the ear tickling the Southern Baptists were guilty of when the clergy of that day not only indulged their southern congregations in terms of not preaching against prejudice toward blacks--- but actually incorporated prejudice right into the worship service (with their mandatory blacks in the back row seating requirements). How it must break our savior’s heart to see us cling to our idols.

I don’t believe God wants us to come to church to be tortured or verbally abused or insulted either. When I hear some people insist that we need fire and brimstone, I find myself shuddering. Do children need to be insulted and threatened in order to learn to eat what is good for them versus what is bad for them?

I can’t imagine a mother screaming, yelling or pounding her fists on the table (pulpit) with a red face as she threatens her child with rickets and all manner of physical defects if they don’t eat their protein. But it would be just as abusive for a parent to give the child only what they WANT to eat and not what they need.

A good mother would perhaps patiently explain that she was not trying to torture them by insisting that they eat adequate protein but giving them what they NEED because she loves them. And what mother hasn’t learned to yes – actually tempt- their child with healthy food by finding ways to prepare nutritious meals that they find appealing.

I believe many of the same methods that parents use to get their children to eat healthy work to get God’s children to eat the right spiritual food? For one thing, if only healthy food is served, what choice does a child have but to eat nourishing food instead of junk?

I can remember opening the refrigeration as a teenager and saying, “I’m hungry.” My grandmother would say, “Well have some of this or have some of that.” I would reply, “I don’t WANT that.” Then she would say, “Then you are not hungry.” And she was right. Usually, I was either just bored or had just been influenced by a “Big Mac Attack” on a television commercial.

Perhaps the churches that serves the most nutritious meals will not be the churches with the largest congregations. But while church leaders, the world, and individual egos might be impressed with numbers, I believe God is impressed with one thing, and one thing only - faithfullness.

When he said to Peter, “If you love me, you will feed my sheep,” he made no mention of what his expectations were in terms of how many souls he wanted Peter to persuade to come to his church. It is obvious to me that he simply wanted Peter to feed and care for the sheep God gave him.

So this is the life of a pastor I assume….trying to convince the children of God that they should eat the right food and trying to make it as palatable and even as enjoyable as possible -- as long as the nutritional quality is not compromised in the process.

gentledove

Pastor Randy said...

gentledove,

Thank you for the wonderful illustration from your life with your grandmother. That's wisdom if I have ever heard it, and it fits so well with what we must endeavor to do within the life of the church.

It is most likely something I will "use" with my own children who tell me of their great "hunger." Hey, it's something I should say to myself! ;o)

I guess part of our role as those seeking to be conformed to the image of the Lord, is to not only fill ourselves with the right food, but also to discern true hunger in the first place.