Christian Community and Harley-Davidson

In their book, Living On Purpose: Finding God’s Best for Your Life, Christine and Tom Sine offer an excellent chapter entitled, “Seeking First the Kingdom in Community.”

They report that the West has moved away from connectedness and community toward isolation and individualism. Not only that,

“As we have seen, there has also been a growing emphasis on seeing ourselves as individual consumers whose primary task is to keep the economy booming. This may be great for the economy, but it doesn’t seem to be doing us much good as persons.”

It’s sad, really: Even Christians have been trained to meet our needs for intimacy through the things we buy. We identify who we are by what we consume. And this is now shaping the way we view church.

“Far from challenging the growing individualism and consumerism of modern culture, many churches have bought into it…[and] settled for a view of the church that is barely different from a consumer mall…The church is reduced to a place we go once a week to have our individual ‘consumer’ needs met. If the church can’t meet our needs, then we will ‘shop around’ until we find one that does.”

Interestingly, while the church is adopting the marketing techniques that appeal to consumers, the marketers are now figuring out that individualism may not sell as well as community.

Take, for example, Harley-Davidson. The Sines report that,

“Harley-Davidson brought itself from the brink of extinction by forming owner groups and getting them together to build community around their common passion. ‘To really experience the full value of a product community is the best way to do it…it can be a transforming experience.’

Harley-Davidson is saying that community is a “transforming experience.”
The Church is missing the fact that community is her central reason for existence.

This is a frightening revelation. Maybe I’d better buy a hog and start riding it on Sunday mornings.

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JMY said...

My wife's side of the family is a full of preachers but they also own harley's and I have been amazed at how exclusive a club it can become...everything harley!!

Appreciate the post..i plan to link to it.

jmy said...

I thought blogger would put a link to my blog but it is www.noviceatbest.com ...again I plan to link to it and forward it to my wife's family ;-)

Ted Gossard said...

Bob, Thanks. Though community is inherent in who we are, I do think most of us are in situations in which we have to work at being engaged in it (as well as part of the impact of the Fall on us). In so many church gathering settings, it is so easy to come and go, in a setting that seems more fitted to "you and God", you and your worship experience there, you and your needs and likes being met there. Rather than US together, and God. With the reality of it all. Thanks!

(I'll pass on the Harley-Davidson club)