The People of God or The Corporation of God?

I’ve been often troubled by the fallout from the 1886 Supreme Court decision, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, which applied the Fourteenth Amendment to corporations, granting them the right to be recognized as persons. As Skye Jethani writes in his excellent book The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity,
“Ironically, the same law that ensured human beings would no longer have legal status as property was used to grant property the legal status of human beings” (p. 90).
Jethani then connects the dots between that decision and how we now emotionally, psychologically, and theologically convey personhood to institutions. Because of branding, we don’t just buy oats, we buy from “a smiling Quaker man;” we don’t just drive a car, we shout, “I love what you do for me, Toyota!” “…as if the carmaker was a benevolent individual and not 300,000 anonymous employees organized into a profit-driven multinational institution. One hundred years of relating to personified corporations has caused a profound shift in the way we live” (p. 91).

Jethani connect the dots all the way to the institutional church, which we have personified like other corporations. We therefore believe we are supposed to have a relationship with the institution of the church rather than the people of the church.
“As such, with all sincerity, we can say, ‘“I love what you do for me, Faith Community!’ The personification of institutions in our culture means the institutional church, rather than the flesh-and-blood people of God, has become the vehicle of God’s mission in the world.”
Thus, we who lead the church as pastors start to believe that our job is to create a corporate brand, a church institution that people will be loyal to, that will have a positive reputation in the community, that our members will invite their friends to.

We develop vision statements, create programs, and we use slick marketing tools (including contemporary logos), all because we believe that the mission of God is to get people to “buy in” with our church, devote themselves to our programs, and in so doing, they will become deeper disciples of Jesus Christ.

But as soon as we start believing that the goal is to sell people warm feelings about the church, then we are way off the mark of God’s true mission for his church. The mission of God is the redemption of His creation. In other words, God is ushering in His Kingdom. The institutional church is not the Kingdom of God, but rather the witnesses to the Kingdom.

Instead of placing the emphasis on marketing the church, the church should be equipping its people to be the witnesses of the Kingdom. It is the “flesh-and-blood people of God” that the Spirit indwells in order to be the incarnational-missional instrument for the Kingdom.

1 comment:

caucazhin said...

very well said !!!
And then we use the " JUST WAR THEORY " to defend all the crap we consume and get even more.
A wanton whore perhaps ?
Much like the one in REVELATION 18 ???
Because after all God told Joshua to enter the promise land and take it by force so that gives us the right to do the same since weve been given the same mandate.
I mean after all thats how we conquered this continent isnt it ???
So why not the world @ large ???
I mean common it says it right on our money " in gOD we trust "
HAAAAAAAaaaaaa !!!
What a complete and utter contradiction.
" We cant serve God & Mammon "