Last night a friendly lady in our town handed me a pamphlet that says, “Beyoutiful” and invited me to come to a women-only 4 hours event with brunch, inspiration, relaxation and creative workshops. I thanked her for inviting me and took the pamphlet home.
At home I looked at the pamphlet and everything in it was about “I-ME- MY-MINE”. Even the church building where this event happens is advertised with its slogan “MY CHURCH” in capital letters, just like my supermarket, my hair salon, my shampoo or my facebook status! I turned around the pamphlet and it said “Enjoy the relaxed hours of brunch and let yourself be inspired. Try something new like, Zumba, Wellness, Sing along, Cosmetics, flower decorations, cupcake decorations, tips to photography and be photographed or try the indoor rope course. For those who long for restfulness, there is a possibility for quietness (silence) and prayer.”
Ticket: 24 Euros per person that can be bought on Sunday at the Church building.
Why is this significant? Because it so beautifully captures the folly of many churches today trying everything they can to make people darken their front door, no matter what. The folly part is this: Paul spoke about the need for communicators of the Gospel to build bridges to their audience and become a Jew to the Jews and a Greek to the Greeks. He did not say: become a sinner to sinners. It is one thing and a good one to sit with sinners like Jesus would hang out with prostitutes, tax collectors, and, probably the worst of all, professional clergy. But to create an environment in church where sinners feel right at home is overstepping a line in the sand. This is where the little lambs in church start dancing with the wolves. Not good. Here is why:
The biggest religion of the cultural West today is Egotistic Narcissism. The open, unashamed worship of God ME. Narciss was that Greek mythology guy who looked into the water, discovered his mirror image, and hopelessly fell in love with himself. Narcissism is all about me. I like me. I am the best. I therefore deserve to like things. I deserve fun. Society out there owes me a supermarket for me, a bank, a partner for me. What about God? Well, he likes me. He’d better. The whole God story is ultimately about me and God. How God wants to give all his resources to me, so that I can be as me-istic as possible. The best part of the Bible is that part that I like. And of course His/Her excellent eminence, ME, needs and deserves a church that fits – me.
When churches begin to cater to this, they become syncretistic, mixing what does not mix. It looks successful, at first. When churches invite outside folks for me-events, the me-driven people will come. No doubt about this. But someone else will come as well: The spirit of Me-ism. This spirit will start to turn everyone’s head in that church to look at the mirror and discover: ME! And slowly but steadily, the centre of that church ceases to be Jesus, his Kingdom, his interests and directions. It is replaced by a collective churchy narcicism about our building, our cafeteria, our programs, our pastor, our parking lot. The church stops to have meetings and begins to have me-ings.
And yet another Church-as-God-wants-it has turned into Church-just-like-I-like-it.