Discovering faith in a consumer age

Seminar explores Christianity in modern culture

Amy Dueckman | B.C. Correspondent
Abbotsford, B.C.

“We are formed to be consumers, wanting maximum value for the lowest price,” Scott Hagley of Forge Canada told a group gathered at Level Ground Mennonite Church for “Consumed: Finding faith in a consumer age.” Not only that, but he said people have come to “imagine God in economic-consumeristic terms.”

Citing his own experience of moving from city to city and trying to find a new church, Hagley led the group in thinking how a consumer mentality in society affects how people view their interaction in the church. He said the term “church shopping” itself assumes a consumer mentality. “We bring a transactional mentality [if I do this, then God does that] to the gospel,” he said, explaining that buying and selling are formative practices, with the assumption that both sides will act in their own best interests.

Hagley gave insights into such concepts as “bumper sticker Christianity”: Give your life to Jesus and you’ll get the free gift of eternal life. But, he pointed out, “we all know there’s more to it. Telling about Jesus means telling about [being part of] Jesus’ body.”

He also talked about “juvenile Christianity,” with its prevailing attitude of entertainment and avoidance of suffering. “We say it’s a sin to bore anyone, but learning involves boredom,” he exclaimed. “We’ve let go of the reality of suffering; to follow Jesus means submitting to Christ.”

Everyone has some connection to place, and the church is no exception, said Hagley. Participants were grouped together by congregation to consider the questions, “How is your church/community already rooted in a neighbourhood, and how might it look to take it more seriously?” and, “Which shared practices currently orient your life as a church?”

Ultimately, said Hagley, God’s love is a gift, with Father, Son and Holy Spirit as a community constituted by reciprocal gift-giving. “We like to make ‘love’ abstract, but in the Bible there is ‘no idea of love’; there is only ‘love,’ ” said Hagley. “There is love because there is God.”

Forge Canada is a network of leaders and churches in Canada that are committed to training leaders and churches to transform their neighbourhoods through sharing resources and encouraging one another in mission.

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