Stories we tell each other: Catechism and Consumer Liturgies

I’ve talked and written about how consumer life has practices and habits that situate and train us into ways of doing life.  Consumerism can be understood as religious practices around ways of life, like liturgy.  Two chapters in Church in the Present Tense by me outline some of the thinking and practices from our church community in response to that.

Within those chapters I suggest the need for a counter training that worship is meant to produce.  Church is a community to train us to live in the world rightly, deeply and to love it more fully.

Consumerism has it’s own question and answer catechism.  When people get together and share about life, the measures of life, and what life is about, there is often a familiar ping pong about what money was spent on what and why.  Cars, holidays, experiences, houses, relationships etc are measured by a liturgical conversation over drinks and food.  Consumerism has us repeat it’s values and beliefs in the stories we tell to each other, before we go and practice them again.

Christians have had Catechism as part of their worship practices, to repeat to each other in community Gospel stories and values.  That is something my evangelical stream as largely lost.

Most experiences of Christianity are now instrumentalist by consumerism.  All to often worship is reduced to felt need occasional interactions with worship in order to get something else from life; instead of a regular deep experience with others of brining of life in contact with the Gospel.

In trying to extend the idea of worship as training, and liturgical formation I’ve wanted to offer a proper Catechism at our church.  My tradition doesn’t have one to draw on, so where to start?  

Thankfully, Tim Keller at Redeemer has distilled some of the greatest Catechisms into a 52 week online/phone app version.

A simple idea to engage with the technology in the hands of so many of my church community (with so many phones and tablets having just arrived in Christmas stockings).  This Catechism weekly reviews key beliefs of the Christian faith, through Q&A, with the ability to undertake it with family and friends.

So I’m inviting my church community to join in this for a year together, and spend time as families and then time together over meals after sunday services to review what we have been learning.

My hope is for those of us undertaking this, that our next year will have been spent measuring and assessing life over meals around the Gospel and Kingdom, instead of consumer dreams and aspirations.