One of the things that has bothered me for a long time is how Christians have gotten so caught up in the spirit of consumerism. Jesus came to break the chains of oppression and bondage; I believe that debt driven by the spirit of materialism is one of the greatest forms of bondage in the Western culture today.
Materialism drives slave labor in foreign markets; many of the goods that we purchase are produced by slave and child labor in other parts of the world. Also, materialism, our desire for bigger, better and more, creates environmental challenges. This total spirit of materialism has encroached into Christmas, and we Christians have bought into it.
What I wanted to do was change the focus and get Christians to begin to really focus on Jesus’ birthday and celebrating the counterculture Messiah at Christmas in a way that honors his birth. My initial attempt was to get people to spend less, not only on themselves, but to really live within their means and use Christmas as a time to focus their resources on the least and the lost. My initial challenge to people was that whatever they spend on themselves to spend an equal amount on a missional project. For Ginghamsburg that was the Sudan Project. When people focus outside of their own families at Christmas and bring in an equal amount for God’s purposes, it creates what I call the “miracle of the loaves and fishes”.
Mike Slaughter is the lead pastor at Ginghamsburg Church and spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations. His life-long passion to reach the lost and set the oppressed free has now made him a tireless and leading advocate for the children, women and men of Darfur, Sudan. He is also the author of Christmas Is Not Your Birthday. Visit his Web site at mikeslaughter.com.