The article bothered me for one simple reason: He seems to fail to realize how a metaphor works! I posted the following response on CT. But there isn't really space for dialogue over there. So we could have it here. Here is what I posted:
Help me to understand. With great respect (writing to Dr Mouw), it appears that you misunderstood the nature of a metaphor.(And this is worth a read too: Anthony Sacramone wrote a post on 'First Things' HERE. Anthony is an acquaintance of mine, and begins his critique: "With all due respect to Dr. Mouw, his thesis is just daft." and concludes: "But a day at the mall it [Church] ain’t." I might say that everything else in between is pure gold.)
'Shopping' is almost always about me and what I want right now: I need a TV, I choose the one for me, and pay the lowest price. I need shoes, I shop around. I need a car, I haggle for the price. Precisely because its about me. That's why the metaphor 'church shopping' has been used so negatively for so long. That's why the word 'shop' and the word 'church' ought never be placed together!
What you are describing here is (in your own words) vocation. Vocation is not shopping. It's about finding God's plan and place so that a person may serve him and his world. What you are describing here as vocation is exactly right. We need to pray and seek to find the right place to promote the Kingdom. We need discernment in churches and discernment in theologies. Yes!
But surely a metaphor (like shopping) has to actually *mean* what it implies. That's how English works, does it?
- Have you ever gone looking for a church? (That is, you weren't called out to serve in another church. For whatever reason, you were in a position where you had to go looking.)
- If you were honest with yourself, would you have liken it to 'shopping'? In what way?
- How would you spot consumerist tendencies in yourself (if you had them) and what can you do about it?