Once every few years I encounter a book that I swear was written just for me. Well, Hugh Halter and Matt Smay didn’t put “To Chris Bell” in the title of their new book “AND – The Gathered and Scattered Church”… but they should have!
This book addresses the culture war in the faith community… do we attract people to church with high production values, nice buildings, and big marketing – OR– do we go intentionally small, focusing on developing the practices and habits of Christ followers apart from the attractional elements that seem to so thrive in many churches. Instead of OR, welcome to AND!
If you work in a faith community (paid or unpaid), lead any sized group of Christ followers, or in any way carry around in your heart the tensions of leading people toward Jesus… READ THIS BOOK! The third chapter alone (on Consumerism) is worth the purchase! Here are a few quotes:
“Consumerism only exists when it is allowed to exist. Like a scavenging raven, it only shows up where easy food is available. In American Churchland, both the spiritual leaders who provide the goods and those who consume the goods are to blame.”
“The consumeristic [hamster] wheel subverts a leader’s natural and healthy willingness to lead God’s people… [instead] feeling duty-bound to provide… programs… crisis management… counseling…and entertaining… the congregations felt needs … because if we, don’t, the next hard-working, well-funded leader will, and our folks will trade us for the newer upgraded church experience.”
“It’s time for us to stop spinning plates to keep people happy and entertained! Consumerism reflects what Jesus came to call people out of!”
“People don’t need most of the stuff we give them. In fact, there seems a direct correlation between providing too much and the immaturity that develops when people are give the chance to overindulge… You have to remove what they are consuming.”