Martin Roth wrote an article The Bible vs. the Ikea Catalogue - Which is Winning Hearts? Ikea is a Swedish furniture store, selling some really good looking stuff at prices a little high for my liking. 115 million copies of their 2003 catalogue have been printed, and there's a lot of people like me who don't get it but would happily sit down and read it. Martin ends the article with this:
China. Russia. Japan. Western Christians are spending heavily to reach people in such countries with the Gospel. Will we win hearts as readily as Ikea?
That's disturbing. But how many people read the Bible with the same spirit of curiosity and anticipation as they leaf through the Ikea catalogue? And why not?
Wayne read out part of this quote at a church meeting a little while ago:
On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, making up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies hats and straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offence, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.
Annie Dillard, "Teaching a stone to talk"
It's not about the marketing, it's about the product. Ikea has a product people want. There's some of it in our dining room, shipped over when we left England. Is there anything in Christianity that people want more than smart furniture? I hear a lot about "having a relationship with Jesus." How exactly do you do that? How do you touch a scorching God and live? How does God become less than lethal to us, yet retain his place as Creator and King? In his son. Jesus could shout without levelling mountains, and talk softly enough we could walk away. And we do. Straight to Ikea, or whatever else you self-medicate with.
Something's gone wrong somewhere.