Coronavirus Could Kill Consumer Christianity by BRETT MCCRACKEN for The Gospel Coalition
GNN Note – Government and most progressive liberals would like nothing better.
One of the potential positive effects of COVID-19 on Christianity is that the epidemic is likely to kill off consumer Christianity, at least in the short term.
And while there is certainly plenty to lament about how this crisis is wrecking lives, economies, and unraveling all the world’s plans in stunningly rapid fashion, the virus’s attack on comfortable Christianity could be something we eventually celebrate.
Here are three ways COVID-19 is killing consumer Christianity.
1. Stripping Church of Excess
There will be no Insta-friendly photo booths, polished musical programs, or pastel-colored bounce houses at churches this Easter. Cadbury egg giveaways and “He Is Risen!” latte art will be absent. Lavish children’s ministry playgrounds, bespoke Vineyard Vines–clad greeters, fair trade pour-over coffee—none of it will be there to entice seekers or twice-annual churchgoers. Months of planning for the most creative, attractive Easter service in town have been thwarted. Pastors everywhere are likely depressed at this turn of events, but they shouldn’t be.
Why? Because coronavirus has rapidly taken away the excesses of church, all the bells and whistles, all the nice-to-haves we’ve come to see as must-haves. What remains are bare essentials: Jesus, the Word, community, prayer, singing. What remains is the reality that the church can never be vanquished: we are Christ’s body and will live eternally with him. Things are suddenly spartan in how we do church—but what we are remains as vibrant as ever.
In a tweet earlier this month, Duke Kwon pondered: “What if God, in his strange providence, is downshifting the American church into a mode of simplicity, stripped of non-essentials, renewed in its fundamental identity as the people of God?”
Among other things, this “downshifting” will rid many people—including many pastors—of the notion that church must be comfortable and consumer-friendly in the crowded marketplace of entertainment options. In the COVID-19 quarantine, the clunky, unpolished computer-church experience will decidedly not be the easiest or most comfortable option for how people spend their Sundays. It will be a countercultural choice. And that’s a good thing.