January 28, 2013 by Dwight Bernier
Our dominant culture is one that reaches consumers. Advertisements are not done the way that creators of products want, but they are made to entice the consumer. Billboards are meant to reel people in and convince us that we need this product. It is all about the consumer.
This attitude carries over into the church. Programs and services offered within the church can be created for the sole purpose of what people want as opposed to what people really need. Wants and needs are not the same (just in case you didn’t know). What stems from this consumeristic epidemic within the church are phrases such as “I don’t feel served or noticed”. Questions are asked like, “Would it even matter to anyone if I stopped coming”? While these might be subjectively true statements, what’s at the root of both these is the individual – the consumer.
Now, as I said, it may be true that a person is not being served or noticed in a certain area. A huge weight of this should fall on those given the task of leading and shepherding the church. But if someone comes to a worship gathering, they will be served in many ways. Someone will have taken the time to prepare a sermon that week. Others have labored to make sure that the premise is clean. Others have paid for the building where you are visiting. Others have given up time to be served in order to watch your children. Others have served by creating a website or pamphlets so that you could know about the service. Others have served you by praying for you before you ever showed up. And the list could go on and on. The reality is not that people aren’t serving, but maybe not in the way that appeals to you. When someone says “I don’t feel served”, what it probably means is that they don’t understand the implications of the gospel.
The gospel tells us that Jesus has served us perfectly. He lived a perfect life without sinning, He bore our sins, and continues to minister to us. Jesus keeps serving us! We have been served so that we can serve others! Lives touched by the gospel will keep spilling over with acts of service. Rather than looking around and saying “I’m not served”, we will look at Jesus and say, “I can’t believe how well I’ve been served”. We then, and only then, will start to look at service properly.
The reality is that no church will serve you perfectly the way you want to be served. But the incredible thing, is it’s not about you – or me. It’s about Jesus. If we look for ways to serve, ways to make things better, ways to make sure others experience the love and service of God, then we won’t have our eyes fixed on ourselves.
If consumers stop coming to a service, then no, it doesn’t really matter that they’ve stopped coming. No one notices one less person in a seat. But if servants stop coming, then everyone notices. Things break down when servants stop serving. And the only way that servants stop serving is because of what we said earlier – something went faulty in their understanding of the gospel.
When we hear the consumeristic lie – that we deserve to be served – let us preach the trust to our souls, that we have been served perfectly.
If you are the consumer, fix your eyes on the gospel and what Jesus did for you, then find ways to serve in your local church and city. In our church, we have missional communities, which offer many different ways to serve in the neighborhood where you live.
If you are the servant, why are you serving? Are you doing it to be noticed and appreciated? Or are you serving out of the abundance of grace you have received because of Jesus having served you?
May our churches, by the power of the gospel, be full of servants, eager to give time, talent and treasure, so that more people can experience how well they’ve been served by Jesus!