Individualism & Momentum: the unanswered question

Sunday, 29th August 2010 at 6:00 UTC Leave a comment

I only made 3 days of Momentum this year, arriving by sleeper and day train just in time for Monday’s main morning meeting and working on the Church Action on Poverty stall through to the end. It was again a very good experience and a chance to get away and think about the spiritual basis for much if not all of what I do. The event has matured, but after last year’s event, few questions were answered.

To very quickly recap, last year Mike Pilavachi, the man who has for 18 years fronted the festivals, identified to everyone 3 problems in British society that are facing the Church today, and which I later identified as root causes of many separate problems, including Climate Change and the banking crisis: The attitudes of individualism, consumerism and entitlement. It was a grand statement, and clearly it didn’t put too many people off if there was a 26% increase in ticket sales this year.

The one thing I felt this year’s event lacked was any attempt to answer the logical next question: how can we confront these three problematic attitudes in words and actions? There may be many reasons for this, and one might simply be that Soul Survivor don’t have the answers, and of course, neither do I. But some part answers might be useful in helping people get on the road to tackling the issues at hand.

The thing is, its not like there aren’t plenty of possible suggestions out and about amongst Christians, even of the more Evangelical colours. One could probably find speakers for each separate issue quite easily, though perhaps its the desire to source from within that provides the challenge. Christian communities, a good idea for challenging individualism, especially amongst 20 somethings, are all over the place (in both senses) but few exist within established UK Evangelical circles. There are a few groups with a few things to say about Consumerism too, and A Rocha were on hand in the tool shed to charge mobile phones with a bike-powered generator. Not so sure about Entitlement, though. Suggestions below, please!

I do wonder if perhaps Soul Survivor may have hit upon a problem though. Perhaps the church itself is too individualist, too consumerist and too caught up in its own sense of entitlement to be listened to as a moral guiding force in society for it to actually present an alternative to society.

To talk about ending a culture of individualism, one needs to start talking about collectivism and community – I’m sure some would think of these as disgusting lefty concepts. At this point, the gospel ceases to be singular, and starts to widen in its scope. This in turn has the potential to interfere with our understanding of human interactions – what should be called our politics. Do we suddenly run the risk of a politicised gospel? (I realise that for some reading this, the gospel is already politicised, so the question is perhaps superfluous).

Until some answers are put on the table, the statement is no more than words, an opinion to be given in discussions. The risk is that in discussing the practical responses, things step outside the realm that most Evangelicals are comfortable with. It remains my prayer that God challenges us, as the Church, to respond to Mike’s original statement. But it seems unlikely that this will happen without some kind of exploration of solutions and alternatives from within Soul Survivor.

I realise I may be entirely wrong about this, and I’d be genuinely interested to see whether others think I’m missing something.

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Entry filed under: Church, Community, Faith, Materialism, Religion, Theology.

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