A&W Church

The American Church Has Not Resisted Consumerism

No strategy is more central to the leftist blitzkrieg than the deracination and destruction of the unchosen bonds, such as family ties, our cultural heritage, and the common way of life of the American people. Once you alienate man from himself and his people, he quickly succumbs to the total state. He will believe lies so long as he can feel the cold blue glow of his pixelated screen. 

A fundamental way the left has accomplished the deracination and alienation of the American people from themselves and their roots is through mass-scaled consumerism. No, “In and Out” coming to your Texas town is not a wonderful sign of progress. It is a sign of just how bad things are. Rootlessness is the goal, and particularity is in the way. However, the average American consumer does not think this way. For them, the convenience of consuming foods and products from foreign cultures is very en-vogue and cosmopolitan. This is the end goal of the left, a rootless people “free” from unchosen bonds. No longer do we have regional cuisine. Go to your local Trader Joe’s and eat the same beans as everyone else, you rube.

The average American’s rootlessness has produced a sad state of affairs. Children move away to college. At best, they can find a spouse, from a different location often, and then get a job in another location far from home. They then attempt to plant roots in this new local economic zone but are frequently moved to another economic zone before any relationships can form. If statistics are to be believed, 60% of evangelicals never return to church after college. Before they know it, they have drifted far from home. Depression and anxiety are salved by mass-produced happy pills by corporations spending billions of ad dollars on the very same devices that promise freedom but only make us more isolated and disconnected. Rootlessness is now a blessing of liberty and the way of life for many young evangelical Christians.

The church has not resisted this mass market rootless consumerism. In fact, it has simply given itself over to managerial Christianity. Now, you can go to your local Life “Baptist” Church in 12 different states, piping in the same sermon and music. You can turn on the radio and listen to positive and encouraging music that your worship band will knock out of the park next Sunday during the worship experience. Did you miss church for the fourth week in a row because you just had to get brunch with the girls? Don’t worry; catch the latest worship experience on your phone!

In this religious climate, the youth are looking for something more rooted. The rootless American has tried the cosmopolitan buffet and is still hungry. Many realize that this is no life. In fact, it seems that the entire world is anti-life. Where can these rootless people find roots?

It is no wonder that younger generations are flocking to Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Evangelical churches often have the temperament of a desperate woman or a “pick me” church looking for approval from outsiders. The American evangelical church reeks of desperation. Like a prostitute on a street corner, they adorn themselves to look pleasing. And for the right amount of attendance, they aim to please. 

However, churches aiming to pass down their tradition have the cool indifference of a man who says, “Take it or leave it; this is who we are.” This is the self-assertive, unbothered posture of many high church traditions. You are welcome to come, but they care little if you like it. In fact, you may not even be able to sing along or clap your hands or kneel at the right times. There may be words you do not understand and remain unexplained by the pastor. That is not the point for them. The point is to transmute their tradition faithfully. They are aiming for rootedness. Unbothered by your ignorance or displeasure with their teachings, they will still welcome you so long as you don’t mess with their tradition. 

A church that is hospitable and yet confident of its own identity and tradition is naturally attractive without trying to be. But even if it was not pleasing to degenerates, since when did the marketability of the “gospel” to the lost become the litmus test for faithfulness? The fact that we have conceived of the church in terms of its attractiveness to the world is, how do they say, “problematic.”

On the other hand, a church that seems like it would change its very beliefs and traditions for you to join comes across as desperate, needy, and clingy (because they are). This is the disposition of the average “pick me” McChurch that preaches on felt needs Sunday after Sunday in their next topical sermon “you don’t want to miss.” The American evangelical church, mainline or otherwise, whose raison d’être is moar lost people, is more akin to a whore spreading her legs than the bride of Christ adorned for her betrothed. The American evangelical church has become an American whore. For the right amount of money, your OnlyFans girl will make you “feel” a certain way. After all, what is more important to the American consumer than feeling a certain way? Rather than resisting this descent into whoredom, the American church celebrates it. Go to your local OnlyFans Church right from your phone!

If anything bothers the youth of our nation, it is inauthenticity. They can smell a sleazy sales gimmick a mile away. For them, the church desperate for you to “belong before you believe” is not compelling. In fact, it is a major turn-off. Churches constantly seek to pivot and perform, just so that lost people will darken their doors. How pathetic. Where is our sense of propriety and decency? Are we that far gone? 

The lost are not looking for a church that is insecure regarding its own tradition. They are looking for something stable in a rootless world. They are looking for clear teaching that is timeless, applicable, and rooted in a particular way of life. What could be more compelling to a rootless people than a church that says, ‘Here, come and be joined to the vine?’ The church offers to all people to come and find life to the full, but first, you must die. Fundamental to that is death is our consumer mindset. There is no hope that these rootless people will find the true fine if we are ashamed of our own roots.

Much of the church’s capitulation today is grounded in the false idea that the church’s primary purpose is evangelism or saving souls. This was seen most recently when Bruce Frank of the SBC said, I paraphrase, we must care about saving souls more than our doctrine. When saving souls becomes the predominant mood of the church, younger generations see it as, as Wade Stotts put it, a multi-level marketing scheme. The church no longer exists as a faithful bride, but as a platform for saving souls—no wonder the church caves left and right by seeking to maintain a market share. When the church is reduced to a platform, entering into service in the great marketplace of ideas, it becomes commodified and weak. Rather than transmuting the particularities of their tradition, American evangelical churches will “do anything short of sin to reach the lost.” That boomer mind virus has run its course, and now we’re left to pick up the pieces in the ruins.

Yes, the church cares about the lost. Evangelism is important. Go and share the good news of Jesus Christ. But even more, guard the faith and make sure your children are raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We can do both, but the grave error of the church has been front-loading evangelism and keeping doctrine and tradition back in the warehouse. 

For our nation, the church must be unashamed of the truth of God’s Word. We should not be embarrassed about one jot or tittle. Instead, we should trumpet the Word to the world. No more blushing about the Bible. Out with the sloganeering and gimmicks. Preach the whole counsel of God’s Word. Raise your children as confident Protestants, knowing the particular distinctives of their tradition. Give them roots. “No, son, we are not just Protestants; we are Baptists.” Give your children the faith entrusted to you. Guard it fiercely. The world is starved for the Word of Life. They are starving for spiritual nourishment. And commodifying your church is not going to give them the food they need. You’ll lose both the next generation and the one you have. 

Image Credit: Unsplash

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J. Chase Davis

J. Chase Davis is Lead Pastor of Ministry of The Well Church in Boulder, Colorado. Chase is married to Kim and they have two sons. He is the author of Trinitarian Formation: A Theology of Discipleship in Light of the Father, Son, and Spirit (2021) and hosts the podcast Full Proof Theology. He was a 2023 Cotton Mather Fellow with American Reformer.

2 thoughts on “A&W Church

  1. If you find yourself saying that putting sermons online is akin to an OnlyFans subscription, you need to do some soul searching.

    There are better ways of critiquing the church. Try harder.

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