If church had marshmallows

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A solitary marshmallow is nothing to get excited about, and yet I love it when my café-made drink is served with one on the side.

A marshmallow, some chocolate-covered coffee beans, or maybe a piece of biscotti. That tiny bit on the side, the unexpected treat, brings me a disproportionate amount of joy. It resonates with my desire for a good deal and good service—I feel like a wanted customer.

The ‘delight factor’ is a clever marketing strategy where a company goes beyond your expectations with bonus services or products. The less you expect the little extras the more something as small as a marshmallow can elicit delight—and maybe even cause you to tell someone else how much you enjoyed it.

What do you think the ‘delight factor’ would be in a church? Maybe a barista-made coffee at morning tea, or a fancy welcome pack for visitors?

Delighted by service?

Have you had surprising service at church?  Maybe a substantial welcome pack with a bunch of goodies? Or how about a bountiful morning tea or really comfortable chairs.

It is nice to be thought of and looked after at church, especially as a visitor. However, the more I think about applying the ‘delight factor’ strategy to church the more I am uncomfortable with it.

Consumer church

If we are taking our consumer mindset into church then we can be easily distracted and preoccupied with our own needs and rights. It’s not long before we start to look for the marshmallow—and become indignant when it’s not served.

The problem is that consumer view of church doesn’t fit in with what church is. It distorts church into a ‘me’ focused event. This is incompatible with the other-focussed example seen in Jesus’ life.

Church is not a spectacle for consumerism: it is not a concert or a drama to watch. Church is about being with others who believe in Jesus for mutual encouragement, for teaching and praising God.

Can we find delight in church?

Yes, we can find delight in church, but our delight comes as part of the upside-down lifestyle Jesus calls us to live: not as a consumer but as part of the family of God—as brothers and sisters in Christ serving each other.

The Apostle Paul finds joy in seeing Christians love each other:

“… Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being in one spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” (Philippians chapter 2, verses 2-4)

Christians are not called to seek their own needs as consumers, but go out of their way to meet the needs of others. In this we should find joy—but it shouldn’t be surprising. Jesus said that his disciples will be known by their love for each other (John chapter 13, verse 35).

Welcome packs, a comfy seat, or delicious muffin—although nice—isn’t what excites me about church. I have been delighted by love and care shown by my church family as they care for each other. This is a sacrificial love—not a consumer love for being served but a mutual care and love shown to each other.

Being part of a church family isn’t always easy yet it is within this eclectic group of people that God’s love can shine through us as we love each other.

Rather than finding delight in being a consumer the ‘delight factor’ in church is found in a group of people united by faith in Jesus, sacrificially showing love to each other.

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