It's so silent on what ails its lost souls
By John W. Fountain / Special to the Washington Post
This is important reading. While Mr. Fountain's appraisal applies directly to the culturally Black church, the problems he unveils apply equally to the white church.
He suggests that materialism is at the core of the problem within black congregations. I believe that materialism is at the core of the problem in white congregations, too.
By materialism, I do not mean money, the acquiring of it or the spending of it. Nor do I mean the stuff we accumulate.
Materialism, according to Webster's second definition (which is the right one in this context), is: a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things. Using that definition, let me list some areas of materialism in white congregations:
- Buildings and property
Like teenagers, people outside the faith see right through this stuff. If we offer spiritual sustenance - living water - we will attract the spiritually thirsty. If we offer earthy, transitional fast-food, we will repel the spiritually thirsty; they'll go find another source for water, mucky and foul and environmentally hazardous as it may be.
People are looking for grace. Offer it in any container, but make sure it is pure. Make sure the container isn't the preoccupation. Make sure that the container holds the real thing.