Sunday, July 24, 2005


These words of UM Bishop Kenneth L. Carder (one of my heroes and aquaintances) may be pertinent in the discussion of the practices and place of the Church Growth Movement and the United Methodist Church.

"When the consumerist motivation becomes pervasive everything is reduced to a utilitarian market commodity. Worship is reduced to a marketing tool to attract the masses and is shaped by personal preferences and individual tastes. Evangelism is seen more as joining the church than a radical reorintation of life in response to prevenient, justifying, santifying, and perfecting grace. Ministry becomes a commodity to be dispensed by the professionals and received by the laity. Institutional participation is equated with discipleship and mission is treated as an optional object of occasional financial support. The church is viewed as another of the many institutions competing for the loyalty and support of people, who shop for the institution that best fulfils their self-identified needs.

The loss of the centrality of theology moves God to the periphery of the church's life or makes God a utilitarian commodity. Thus, some have charged The United Methodist Church in the United States with "atheism". Contemporary Methodists tend to trust planning processes, organizational strategies, institutional structures, and the insights gleaned from the social sciences more than the power of gospel proclaimed and lived. Without firm theological grounding and critique, as Wesley practiced in the eighteenth century, the methods employed by the church promote a practical atheism under the guise of the Christian faith. The church loses its memory and relies on the surrounding culture to give it identity and purpose."

written by Bishop Kenneth L. Carder (former bishop for TN Conference); excerpt from Rethinking Wesley's Theology For Contemporary Methodism; edited by Randy Maddox


gmw said...

Amen, Amen!

We commodify and consume even people, but Jesus frees us from that in part b/c he will not be a product for our consumption. We don't need to consume, we need to relate. So Jesus refuses to be consumed and makes us able to enter into relationship with him and one another.

Andy B. said...

Or how about this:
Jesus allows himself to be consumed and then rises triumphant into new life once again, so that we will be able to enter into relationship ... etc.
We cannot stop the Church Growth movement, but we can trust in the resurrection of the body.
- Andy B.