Tuesday, April 13, 2010
We have purchased some homeschool materials from Christianbook.com and because of that we get promo emails from them all the time. I normally ignore them but I took a peek at the one I got today because it was touting "church supplies". It must be a pretty big seller because there are 4,712 entries under the category "church supplies" on their webpage. It is a laundry list of stuff we assume you need to have a "church". It includes clerical apparel like "Friar Tuck Black Enamel Cufflinks w/ Brasstone Cross". It also features "office supplies", the first 15 of the top 25 bestsellers are all some sort of offering envelope. Some are for general offerings and other special offerings like Easter, "pastor appreciation" and "building fund". Lots of "outreach/visitor" materials, like tracts and doorhangers. How can you possibly celebrate communion without a $309.99 communion tray?
So I guess my question is this. Why do we think we need this stuff in order to be the church? How much do churches spend on stuff like this?
Really, I think all of these supplies amount to little more than props. Props to enhance the religious experience, to make it feel like church. Church just seems so much better if the preacher is behind a pulpit and wearing a suit, or better yet a clerical outfit complete with cufflinks. I feel better about putting money in the plate if it is in an envelope plus it makes it easier for the church bookkeeper to track (it is tax deductible you know). Having a full rack of tracts is easier than getting to know someone and directly witnessing to them of the risen Lord.
Is this really what the church has come to? Supply catalogs and office supplies and dress-up clothes? I cannot imagine that Paul or James or Peter could walk into a Sunday morning service and have any idea that what was going on was a gathering of the church.