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Chris Yaw Interviews G. Jeffrey MacDonald: Beware of Thieves in the Temple

September 06, 2012

Taken with permission from

Which is rubbing off more: the Church on the Marketplace, or the Marketplace on the Church?

Journalist, author, and UCC minister G. Jeffrey MacDonald is convinced that North America's consumer mentality is shaping the Church in some worrisome ways - that we're becoming more interested in value, convenience, and comfort vs more biblical values of sacrifice and discipleship.

In this interview, Jeffrey reminds us that the Church isn't so much in the business of catering to desires as much as transforming them.


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G. Jeffrey MacDonald, longtime Religion News Service reporter, and UCC minister, says churches not only need to comfort, but they need to challenge as well. Here are my notes from the interview:

The Market-Driven Nature of the Church
Let's face it, consumerism is the water we swim in, so churches need to be more mindful of the ways our 'shopping' attitudes shape our faith communities.

Nominalism is Out
One good thing about our era is that 'only the religious need go to church.' Since the social stigma of staying home on Sunday mornings is no longer present (in many places) the church is left populated by people who really want to be there - which is a good thing.

The Church Saint Project
An interesting idea is to equip the young people of the congregation with notepads and appointments with elderly members to chronicle their stories (especially as they relate to the congregation) as a way to remember and preserve what God has done in a specific faith community.

About G. Jeffrey MacDonald
G. Jeffrey MacDonald is a journalist, author and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He started out covering local news in North Carolina, then state government in Vermont, before following a call to ministry and honing a specialty in religion reporting. He's received seven national awards for his religion writing, which has appeared in such publications as TIME magazine, USA Today and Boston Globe Magazine. His book, Thieves in the Temple: The Christian Church and the Selling of the American Soulwon third place for Religion Nonfiction Book of the Year for 2010.

MacDonald works as a correspondent for various news outlets and is a 2011-12 Knight Fellow for Reporting on Religion in American Public Life. His Knight grant made possible a series of stories on faith-based mentoring for children of incarcerated parents. He holds an A.B. degree in history from Brown University and a M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. He lives in Swampscott, Mass.

Books Jeffrey Recommends
Life Together - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The New Monastics - Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove


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