The Quest for Community

I am an eBay addict. I may need help. My most recent purchase is one of the first books published by my Ph.D. adviser. It has been missing from my library for 20 years. I got this copy for 50 cents. The postage cost more than the book. But for $2.50 I reclaimed my pedigree. At eBay, I feel like a kid in a candy store.

The online auction house is one of the wonders of the last decade. From 1995 to 1998, eBay did no outside advertising; yet it boasted 3.8 million registered users and grew from 289,000 items in 1996 to 2.2 million today. With a $23-billion market, eBay is now worth more than Kmart, Toys R Us, Nordstrom, and Saks combined.

eBay is so effective because its owners understand postmodern culture. It also alerts us to what the church must do to get the attention and attendance of postmodern people.

Just do it!
eBay makes shopping an experience. Journalist Stewart Alsop, analyzing the phenomenon, calls it “nail-biting, thrilling fun.” eBay works in our experience-oriented economy. What keeps shoppers returning to a store? Not just the products. As one patron said, leaving a new Greenwich Village eatery called Peanut Butter and Company, “This is very much an experience; it’s not just a sandwich.”

Postmoderns are not willing to live at even an arm’s length from experience. They want life to explode all around them. And the more extreme the better.

Tom Beaudoin, a Gen-X Christian with a theology degree from Harvard and a body piercing, says that piercing and tattooing “reflect the centrality of personal and intimate experience in Xers’ lives.” Tattooing is branding in a brand culture, the marking of a spiritual experience.

The pursuit of dreams, emotions, and extreme experience is not unique to this era. Every expression of romanticism in history has tilted toward the experiential. But never before has experience become the currency of a global economic system.

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Leonard Sweet

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I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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