A very catchy title, but not whole original as it originates from a blog post by Mike Breen. While I don't know if I agree with everything Mr. Breen has to say, it is something to ponder. You might want to follow this link and read Obituary For The American Church by Mike Breen
Mr. Breen points to three key on how the American church will be taken out - embracing a culture of Celebrity, Consumerism and Competition.
Celebrity is certainly deeply woven into who we are as American's. Culturally we desire celebrity, we are fascinated by celebrity, admire celebrity and buy based on celebrity. Breen makes two key points. "Now there is nothing dark or sinister about “celebrity” in and of itself" and "there is a difference between being famous and being significant."
I wonder if we are to quick to quote the celebrity, marketable, leader of big church x, because it is easier to quote his/her Twitter feed rather quote God's holy word in a doctrinally correct manner. Celerity should never be confused with authority or significance.
Consumerism of the post war era is rampant , growing exponentially and employ's most of the people in my community. Producing a widget and selling it are inherit to who we are. I agree with Mr. Breen, "That’s Marketing 101, right? The problem is at the end of the day, the only thing that Jesus is counting is disciples."
While I am not afraid of marketing the church, I think we do have to be careful about being upfront about our motives and what we really are tying to accomplish. If you have ever been at the wrong end of bait and switch you know what I mean.
Breen's observation of "Disciples aren’t consumers, they are producers. Jesus cared about disciples more than anything else", should be at the heart of what we are marketing. Rather than sit, soak and serve, maybe we should be writing individual discipleship profiles to get one ready to replicate. (which would be explosive growth)
Competition is a topic that I enjoy and will take me quickly back to my freshman theology of leisure notes from Dr. Larry Jackson as I began my Church Recreation studies. (see diploma on the wall) Breen hits the nail on the head with his statement, "Now don’t hear me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being competitive, it’s just how competition has become warped and twisted within our culture."
I believe the twist is this. We have made the competition personal and ugly. In the movie Seabiscut, the famed horse has only to look a competitor in the eye and he will allow himself to be defeated. We cheer this level of competition. We have the competitive spirit, yet we seem to really lack a race track and a finish line. Que, Paul's race illustration. Often our competition looks more like a frenzied dodge ball game, than a race with a specified goal. Redemption and discipleship. Maybe the race is more about training racers, who, in turn, can train more racers.
A good Mark Twain quote is in order here as it relates to the church, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Christ's church, when focused on Christ's goals flourishes in most any culture where it is willing to pay the price to be significant, feed the soul and satisfy our ultimate goal to be united with our creator.
Personally, I am very optimistic for the American church. My optimism is tempered with the reality that renewed focus on the lost and discipleship must come clearly into focus. Maybe the goal for this race we only need to embrace the Christ, His mission and his methods. The running of that race has certainly been significant. The disciples were students, learners, practitioners and ultimately disciplers.