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Christian Boggle

This is not a post about how Christians take normal everyday items,  place the word “Christian” on it and sell it to other Christians.  But…it is about consumerism.

I live in Holland, Michigan.  It is a lovely place, and consistently toward if not on top of the list of safe and happy places to live in the United States.  I like it here.  I am planning living here for a long time (God willing).  That said, I have a few complaints.  Most of them are quickly shed off my back and into the lovely waters of Lake Michigan or the less lovely, and a little murky waters of Lake Macatawa (that was one of my complaints).

We live in the middle of a very “Christian” culture.  That’s not to say that everyone who lives here is a Christian…far from that.  In fact, 35% of the people who live near me are not connected to a church at all.  But it IS a very Christian culture…by that I mean that there is an expectation that people and businesses will conduct themselves, at least outwardly, in a manner promoted and lived out by the person of Jesus Christ.  And they do (again…for the most part).

But they have added to that something else: a very consumeristic mindset.  Maybe just being American, and maybe being a town with a lot of options, and maybe being a community with some means, but we are consumeristic in many ways.  We want what we want, and if we aren’t getting it at one place we’ll go where we can get it.  You don’t offer that shirt in green?  I will walk across the street and buy it in green.

This is precisely what I see happens in churches here.  For the other 65% (blanket statement alert) we do church like playing Boggle.  Boggle is the game where a grid catches cubes with letters on them and you try to find as many words as you can.  Between rounds you shake the grid and all the cubes move around and find a new home in the grid.  Then you see what you can find.

If you’re not a pastor, then you might not know this, but pastors – when we get together, share the secret handshake, and say the password – have opportunity to share joys and frustrations in security and confidentiality.  Maybe you have that in your vocation, too.

One of the things that comes out is this family or that family who left the church for this reason or that reason: you don’t offer a big enough youth group, your nursery doesn’t use my brand of baby butt wipes, the deacon looked at me wrong, my grandma moved into a nursing home and you didn’t visit her 12 times in a week, and other crazy sounding, but all together realistic reason for leaving the church for another one.  The Boggle game gets shaken up and they land somewhere else where they will be happy…until the first time they have communion and find that you use wheat bread instead of white.

I could go on and on, but that’s not my style, plus I see someone in the coffee shop I want to talk to.  So I will conclude thusly:

If you are a consumeristic Christian and have moved or are thinking of moving for a lame reason – take a minute…think about the real reason you want to move to a different church…then think about what Jesus might say in response to your reason…then think about the person you really need to talk to about the issue…then think about if it really matters or if you are whiney…then, if it really matters consider what change you’re going to make to make things better…then ask yourself if you really need to go and talk to that person or if it will just cause drama…then wait a month.  During that month find a way to serve in the church or in your neighborhood or at work that will help usher in the kingdom of God.  And a month later (when you have used up all your spare time in service instead of steaming over the thing that bugs you) you have my permission to go and talk to the right person AS LONG AS you do so with a humble spirit and the best of motivations.

By the way, I have sat on this for well over a month.

Maybe I’ll go the the lake.

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