Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Most everyone has been to the mall at least once this year. Chances are many of you have visited the mall more than you'd like to admit. One thing is for sure; we live in an era of branding and marketing. Companies spend billions of dollars on advertising every year, and some even mega-dollars marketing their marketing.

Take these trends noted in the book, "Affluenza: the All-Consuming Epidemic:"
  • We have twice as many malls as high schools
  • We spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches than on higher education
  • Only 1/4 of shoppers have a particular purchase in mind when they go to the mall
  • Parents spend six hours shopping each week, and forty minutes playing with their children
  • 70% of Americans visit a mall each week; that's more than visit houses of worship
This reminds me of a story from Donald Miller (one of my favorite authors!). He talks about how in Canada, products are simply labeled for what they are. Take for instance, a bottle of dish-washing liquid. In Canada it is labeled exactly that, but in the U.S., it's not just dish-washing liquid, it's a sensual experience for your hands. As a matter of fact, the more you use it, the sexier you become. Donald then claims that he has purchased case after case of this liquid, but still nobody wants to have sex with him.

Sometimes we treat God like a product. We think that God should provide exactly what we want, when we want it, and how we want it delivered. If God fails to deliver, then we'll go somewhere else and shop for Him. Even churches start putting their faith in God as a product. "Let's assess everyone's felt needs and market to them in a savvy way so they'll come buy from us." Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, puts it this way, "...scriptural teaching about the curse, death as the wages of sin, the flooding of the earth, the killing of Egyptian babies, the slaughter of perverts in Sodom and Gomorrah, and the fiery torments of hell is a tough sell even for the best of marketing firms."

When we treat God like a product we become "self-worshipers." We no longer have focus on God, but the focus becomes spotlighted on us. We are so wrapped up in TV, and the internet, and advertisements that cater to us - we has turned into me, me, and more me. It's an easy game to keep playing, and one so many "hoppers and shoppers" continue to drown in. It's no wonder we find less and less "optimists" and so many more "my glass is half empty and the world wants to drink the rest" type people. This might be the main reason so many churches are experiencing a decline in attendance - nobody wants to hang around negative people - nobody.

I love what Jesus has to say in Matthew 6. He's talking about prayer, but I think this applies to so many different areas on our lives:

Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. Matthew 6:6 (MSG)
As we countdown the final weeks of our series on Grace at Meadow Heights Church, I pray our focus (both as a Church and for one another) will be on God and not ourselves. It's easy to get distracted and for someone or something to "cut in on our race." But if we aim our focus upwards towards Him, we will finish the race strong:
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Hebrews 12:2 (MSG)

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