“Church Shopping”

E-mail message from a friend

came across this article which articulates a lot of my discomfort with the way church is in the states.

and the ensuing discussion on the blog where i usually get my church news

Three quick replies
  1. When choosing churches in Ohio and California, I did “pray…about this decision” and “involve your small group” in that prayer and decision. I did “investigate the church’s doctrine, history, or philosophy of ministry.” I primarily investigated their theological soundness and service to the surrounding community. I admit that, in the case of my church here in Ohio, I did fail to uncover a few important theological views of the church.”
  2. I agree with Pastor Jethani’s assessment of the American church’s conformity to a consumerist world view, and I am rather discouraged by it. However, she offers no real solution that I could find. She does not suggest any ways to transform the American Church into a more authentic and effective part of Christ’s body. Many churches like within biking or walking distance of where I live; I must make a choice. Other than the questions I addressed in point 1, she offers no concrete advice on the correct way to make such choices.
  3. “According to Finke and Stark, the American church adopted a consumer-driven model because the First Amendment prohibited state-sanctioned religion.” I think the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is an ally of Christianity. To understand my view, simply research the number of Christians in countries, such as Australia, the United Kingdom, and Italy, where a form of Christianity is the “state-sanctioned religion.”
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2 Responses to “Church Shopping”

  1. Charis says:


    Unfortunately this has to be a ‘drive-by’ comment – perhaps I will respond more fully after the job talk. In any case, just wanted to say that Ephraim Radner suggested in ‘The End of the Church’ that perhaps our response to the present divisions in the church should be not ‘choice’, but repentence. (I took it out from the library but have read almost none of it. It’s not an easy read.)

    An excerpt from the following article: http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0101/articles/marshall.html

    ‘Ephraim Radner makes a remarkably learned and provocative (if at times convoluted) case for Christians not simply to consider, but to accept, that God means to bring down the divided Church. Only in the deliberate departure of the Spirit from the Church can we find an adequate explanation for the hardened durability of Christian division and the striking contentment of Christians with their shattered communal life. Modern ecumenism’s valiant attempt to overcome these divisions has yielded such meager results because of ecumenism’s own deep, if sometimes uneasy, complicity in the assumptions and logic of division.’

    Of course these abstract considerations leave open the question of ‘how then shall we live’, which each of us has to answer – and does answer – in practice.

    Hope all is well in Ohio.

  2. Caleb says:

    Hey –

    I found the review of “The End of the Church” interesting. Especially interesting was that it was strangely aligned with the thoughts of my favorite “crank”, Harold Camping, of Family Radio (http://www.familyradio.org). Here is a link to his online book, “The End of the Church Age and After”:


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