Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Market-Driven Churches Attract Consumers, Not Disciples

James Van Yperen's Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Conflict is... brilliant. And very, very radical. It's radical because it gets to the root (radix) of conflict as in a church's underlying structures.

For example, Van Yperen writes: "A church organized around meeting needs breeds selfishness, and it inevitably leads to competition, control, and conflict." (p. 35)

Churches that spend lots of money marketing themselves get what any market-driven organization wants; viz., consumers. Church is made of people who choose churches the way shoppers choose melons; viz., if it tastes good and satisfies my needs. "Means shape ends. Certain methods bear certain kinds of fruit. When the church becomes a place of transactions we make to get what we need or want, God becomes a product made after our consumer tastes and desires.... Where you start has direct impact on where you end up. If the starting point is self, it is very difficult to end with the lordship of Jesus Christ." (34-35)

"Contrast this," says Van Yperen, "to the Bible’s description of the church as a people who gather for and with others at the foot of the cross." (p. 35)

I'm reading through Van Yperen's book much more slowly than I thought I would. It's deep and meditative.