Marketers and advertisers make millions of dollars making billions of dollars for their clients because they are able to sell things that we think we will get something out of. They do a great job getting us to believe that they are all about us, and that we need what they have to sell.
Most churches dont have such marketers. To be sure, some do, and they regularly are able to produce the kind of services that people get something out of. So long as the music is just right, that we sing enough feel-good choruses (or enough verses of the good ol songs), and that the preacher doesnt preach more than 20-25 minutes (after which we leave feeling very good about ourselves), we can think that we got something out of it, and we are happy.
There are many wrong ideas that come from this perspective, but it is particularly ugly when your church doesnt regularly have the kind of services that do anything for you. But, I have to ask, is that the point? I mean, we dont need to make things boring on purpose, or do anything without passion and reverence for the God of the universe, but when we walk out thinking, I really didnt get anything out of that today, havent we drastically missed the point?
Take communion, for example. We could, like everything else in our culture, think of communion as another time when we can get spiritually filled up personally and miss the larger point of communion with others. J. I. Packer said it like this:
blockquoteAnd then we must realize something of our togetherness in Christ with the rest of the congregation. . . . [We should reject the] strange perverse idea . . . that the Lord’s Supper is a flight of the alone to the Alone: it is my communion I come to make, not our communion in which I come to share…The communion table must bring to us a deeper realization of our fellowship together./blockquote We are in this life, this church, this world emtogether./em There is no place and time that makes that more evident than communion. Its not about me and my spiritual journey, its not about what I might or might not get out of it, its about Christ and the bride that He died to purchase. Its about a lot of things, but its not about me.
(Quote from J. I. Packer, “The Gospel and the Lord’s Supper,” in Serving the People of God, vol. 2 of Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer (Carlisle: Paternoster, 1998), 49-50.)