“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
One of my earliest experiences of Christian churches I remember growing up between the ages of 15-19 in Ausfralia was something that pastors everywhere would call “Christian consumerism.” It was almost described as an epidemic of Christians either leaving churches to go elsewhere or leaving them entirely. There were multiple reasons for these, but the most common phrases were, “I just feel called to serving at …”, or “I’m not growing anymore”, “this church wasn’t very welcoming”, “I don’t like the preaching here”, “I just don’t feel like I’m being fed”, and lastly, “I don’t feel I belong here”. The culture of consumerism that we live here in the west, and as Chinese folk had led us to believing that the church was all about us, us being the consumer and the church being a product. Once a person felt like he had taken all he could, it was time to move on. That was how it was explained to me, and as many a pastor would say, “the church is not about you!”
As a young Christian and someone whom by God’s grace saw this reality occurring, I gritted my teeth and vowed not to leave for any of those reasons. Unlike all these other Christians, I did not want to contribute to this growing problem. I had seen the damage it did to churches and the mindsets that it encouraged. One of the biggest reasons cited for leaving was the substance of preaching at the local church. At the time I saw it as an entirely selfish reason to leave. Asian churches often minimize the role of preaching as a backlash against Christian consumerism and dvidison, but looking back now I have to ask the question: have we lost its importance altogether? Is it really the role of individual prayer and scripture that shapes the growth of a Christian? I want to argue that the role of preaching should not be understated because it is both an essential to what it means to be a church and a critical part of a Christians life and yes, even growth.