Saturday, July 28, 2012

"We" Or "Me"?

23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. — 1 Corinthians 10:23–24 (NASB95)

According to new research, over the past 50 years Americans have increasingly emphasized "me" over "we"—or individualism over community. That's based on a heavy-duty analysis of words and phrases that have appeared in American books published in the past 50 years. Researchers used Google Books to scan 750,000 books, comparing the frequency of "me" words and phrases (such as "all about me," "I am the greatest," "I love me," "my needs," etc.) with "we" words (such as "community goals," "we are one," "work as a team," "common good," etc.). Researchers concluded that the results showed an increasing focus on the solitary self. Psychologist Jean Twenge added, "These trends reflect a sea change in American culture toward more individualism." –

Some believe we’re a society bordering on narcissism. Maybe. What we can say is that we’re losing a sense of community. Individualism is today’s trump card. If it’s not of interest to “me”, if it’s not good for “me”, if it’s not what “I” like, then the chances that “I” or “we” will support it or participate in it are slim.

You’d think this would not be true about the church, but sadly, this same mindset has taken over even among Christians. Schedule events for the church? It only works as long as it fits into “my” schedule. Enlist volunteers for much needed service to the church? OK, as long as it’s what “I” would enjoy doing. Promote fellowship among church members? Sure, as long as “I” like the people to start with.

Even church assemblies and other events suffer. Preachers, elders, educators, and others have long wondered why it’s so hard to get people to turn out consistently and regularly for church events. Everybody knows that attendance on Sunday morning is one thing, and attendance on Sunday night is another. It’s been that way for ages. Is it that Sunday night just doesn’t provide what people need? That’s a possibility, but in most places, the quality of the assembly is the same as on Sunday morning. These are just examples. The question has always been, “Why do people participate or do not participate?”

The answer to that question is key. Listen to the answers carefully. I’m afraid you’ll find that it involves more “I” and “me” than you might think. The church, however, is a “we” thing. Until we get that down, it will continue to suffer.