Wednesday, 7 January 2015

When the church becomes rich

The generation in which we live enjoys luxury and wealth on a scale only dreamt of by those before us. Whilst we are certainly not all rich, most of the western world lives in previously unknown comfort, with an abundance of possessions far beyond our basic needs. Most of us are not living on the breadline but can afford to eat well and dine out when we desire. A foreign holiday is no longer an extravagance but a routine occurrence for most people, sometimes more than once a year. Clothes are no longer bought out of necessity, but rather putting on our 'Sunday best' has been replaced by choosing which 'Sunday best' we will wear this week. Technology has provided for all our needs, we have gadgets for everything, and the increase in disposable income means that we have more opportunity for leisure than ever before.

This age of plenty is also evident in the church. Most congregations now enjoy the comfort of large, well equipped, multi-purpose buildings. Impressive advertising campaigns can be conducted, with glossy literature just as impressive as anything produced by the world. Multimedia technology assists with every aspect of the church's ministry, via PowerPoint presentations, online streaming of services, social media and more. Bank balances are healthy and ministers are well paid. Just as society has become more affluent, so too has the church. Whilst none of these developments are wrong in themselves, indeed we thank God for the material blessings he has given us, there can be the danger that just as the church becomes richer, so it also becomes poorer.