Consumption vs. Creation

A recent post at the Art of Manliness blog, which I discovered courtesy of the king of Whizbangery, Herrick Kimble, suggests that the significant difference between mature and immature men (and people in general, I’d suggest) is whether they spend their time and find their identity through creation or consumption. They state the matter much better than I have:

Boys are consumers. When they’re young, their parents set up their experiences for them; their only job is to sit back and enjoy it. They live in their parents’ house, eat their parents’ food, and use their parents’ stuff. Their free time in used in amusement. They consume their parents’ resources and are passive and taken care of. They make little to no impact on the world and have little ownership of their lives. They are dependent.

The problem is that men aren’t outgrowing this passive role. Instead of creating, they go on consuming. They may not depend on Mom and Dad anymore (although sadly, they often do), but they’re still dependent on stuff for their happiness. Consuming clothes, movies, video games, cars, parties, fast food, and even travel to make them happy. They live only for their own pleasures and amusements.

The great thing about an overarching theory like this one–that men create while boys consume–is that it can be applied to other areas. If it’s true, then it ought to hold true when applied in those areas. That’s why I got to thinking about church.

Recently, I read the gospel of Matthew. As I neared the end of the book, I read the familiar words of Matthew 28:19, the Great Commission: “Go and find a church that meets your needs, partaking of its programs when they help you feel better about yourself.” Isn’t that how the verse goes?

Today’s church endures far too many church consumers, spiritual children who have no interest in building anything. These people worry a good deal about musical styles and how the church programs fit into their lifestyles. When the pastor’s sermons cut a bit too close their own compromises, when the Bible study class spends too much time studying and not enough socializing, when the student ministry doesn’t click perfectly with their perfect students, these people flit to the next church. They’ll never manage to build anything in their church du jour.

Jesus didn’t call us to consume the church any more than he called us to watch all the latest things on HBO or eat at the best restaurants. Happily, we get to enjoy TV shows, good food, and the benefits of church life, but that’s not our purpose.

Jesus called us to create disciples, to build something. We are to build the church as a self-replicating entity, to be builders of builders.