Tuesday, January 08, 2008
$23.97 worth of more guilt
It was on the bottom of the stack of the usual credit card applications and various appeals for money I get on a daily basis. It was a classic piece of junk mail, and typifies the type of faith I used to pursue and the kind I want to leave behind. In bold red letters on the front of the envelope was printed, “WHERE’S THE FIRE?” Listed in bullet points along a left margin underneath were statements like, “You want more depth,” “You read the Bible because you should, not because you want to.” And “You wonder where the joy went?” "Sound familiar?" They couldn’t have summed it up any better. This was an invitation to purchase a subscription to a religious publication. I have to hand it to their marketing team, they know their audience is full of guilt and shame for not being a better disciple. There was a time when this kind of thinking made sense to me, and I probably would have shucked out the $23.97 to get a year’s worth of beatings in the form of a nice, glossy paged magazine. It strikes me odd that the Church As We Know It has created a such a culture of competitiveness. How did we get to this point? I remember the feeling too well. The playing field was spiritual disciplines and the score was kept by how well you did in a particular aspect of the game, depending on the values of the culture you were a part of. Mine happened to be Bible reading, verse memory and how many people with whom you got to share a Summary of the Story. If you did well in these areas, you got asked to do things a lot. And I played the game with the best of them. I worked the system. I fit the profile. I worked about as hard as any young man could. And like it said on the envelope, I wanted depth, read and memorized out of duty and obligation, and hated every minute of it. I wonder how many new subscriptions they will sell based on that piece of mass mailing. Probably quite a few, until people realize the competitive nature of the faith culture they have bought into. Future Pastor, there is a better way, and you know it. Find your joy and lead others there.