God's Original Intent
In Genesis 12, God promised Abraham that he would father a nation that would bless and transform the world.
Two of the first characteristics that were to distinguish this community from the surrounding nations - were:
(1) functioning as a collaborative kingdom of priests under his direct leadership (Exodus 19),
(2) living in the awareness of his presence (Exodus 33).
Collaboration in the presence of God was key to them 'blessing the nations'.
We Have Gotten Distracted
Sadly, contemporary Christianity has wandered quite far off script. Just as with Israel, back in the day, we have tended toward imitating the surrounding cultures more than pursuing God’s original intent of us serving as a priesthood.
We live in a consumer society, in a "branded" culture, in a world of production and fashion and instant influence via social media. It is very tempting to think that we can harness these elements to more effectively accomplish the work of God.
The result of this way of thinking is a 'produced' Christianity where 'the few' create events and resources for 'the many' - multiplying consumers more than empowering transformers. This dynamic is most easily evidenced in communal worship, which should be the most participatory and transformative of all of our shared activities, yet has become so highly produced that only a few get a chance to participate in a meaningful way.
Consumerism is the fastest growing religion in the world, yet it seems to lead to a deep sense of dissatisfaction. An increasing number of believers and spiritual pathfinders feel disengaged from 'produced' Christianity. In some cases they feel like have been silenced. In other situations, they fear that these trends are edging transformative Christianity toward extinction.
The good news is that more and more Christ followers are wanting to move from 'entertainment' toward 'encounter', from 'consumption' toward 'engagement'. The idea of a collaborative, albeit messy, priesthood, where everyone has a chance to play, feels increasingly attractive and key to the personal and societal transformation that many desire.