Coming to gather in public with the people of God is now risky. I’m not talking about the threat of the new virus in town, but the risk that comes from new perceptions arising out of our COVID age.
Our surrounding culture increasingly looks at Church gatherings as unnecessary health risks…”Why do they insist on getting together, hugging, and singing germs – can’t they just stay home and read their Bibles – weirdos.”
Yet, risking social stigma and even health to follow Christ is nothing new to the average saint. Christians have been doing that for centuries. However, for the religious consumer – who wants to shop around for the best religious product in town for the cheapest price, this is unattractive.
To the religious consumer, church is attractive when it has programs, customized services for different interests, nice lighting, and attractive amenities like the coffee bar in the foyer. It needs to be convenient and comfortable. Of course, none of this is rooted in the Church’s identity as a saved and sent people – it’s all culturally shaped by our consumerism and affluence in the West.
So now that the Church is by limited registration, devoid of programs and even simple services such as a functioning nursery due to current health mandates/restrictions/recommendations, and with the prospect of gathering legally most likely to diminish in the near future, what happens to the religious consumer? What happens to consumer church? Can it die? Should it?