JPCC (Jakarta Praise Community Church), is a church with amazing insights.
It provides weekly nourishment that are scripture based, practical, and relevant to the modern life challenges and environment.
I honor the pastors, especially Jeffrey Rachmat and Jose Carol, for being people who are serious about digging and chasing insights into layers untouched by other minds. They don’t fall to recycling traditional sermons, force fitting scriptures into modern context. They’re willing to dig it in, find gems that are only seen through a fresh perspective, package it in a language that brings the message to it’s fulfillment. I respect people who do their job seriously, who embodies the word “profess-ionalism” in how they approach their work, JPCC pastors are such people.
I enjoy their sermons very much, it challenges my thought, perspective, ideas, beliefs on how i have conduct my life.
But one thing start to sow some…discomfort in my heart, the increasing commercialization of JPCC.
I understand if you create music and you want to be rewarded for it. I understand if you create books that provide strong insights and you get rewarded for it.
I understand if you want to put it in a physical and online store so people can enjoy the music and the book.
But when you start to, regularly, announce books and music before or after sermons…I instantly remembers Jesus rage at the holy temple, seeing that the temple has been converted to a market.
It seems JPCC has been taking the word “marketplace” quite literally
It’s sad, sad because for a church with such a great insight, you really don’t need to announce or advertise. It feels wrong and it’s unnecessary.
One item that strikes me as a sample of commercialization is the USB stick/Flash disc containing past sermons. These usb sticks contains a series of sermons. Now, the USB stick is price around US$ 20 (i could be mistaken since this was quite some time ago). US$ 20 is a country with an annual GDP percapita of US 1,300 is a lot. I understand if a CD is price US$ 2.5 since you need to cover the production and distribution cost, but why should a compilation of sermons is price at multiples of a single sermon.
These sermons doesn’t contain insights about business or other skills that are created with making money in mind. These are insight about God and life.
If the insight about God being given to you is given for free, why do you ask others to pay a premium for it?
Is making money the goal when JPCC are obtaining these insights? No? then don’t ask for a premium for content.
There’s another twist, after you’re done copying the sermons to your computer or other media, the usb stick is now, a waste. Yes you can give it to someone, but by now, anyone who can use a usb stick (e.g. access or ownership to computer) might have too much of usb stick already.
This commercialization reach it’s climax, until at the moment of this writing, with the sermons being brought by a preacher from Australia. I respect the person of God, i respect his dedication to God. But the way books and CD’s are being promoted, is just beyond anything JPCC had done before.
It seems the person is keenly aware of potential thoughts on commercialization, and preemptively explains 2 things. 1. “that God encourage him to talk about his books and music and art since it’s all part of God’s message being delivered through him”, 2. “that he doesn’t make much profit from the books and music and art he brought since the production and shipping cost already cut a good portion of it”
These 2 argument would be true if:
The books and music are price at a point where it is “at cost, plus a bit of something” to allow as many people to purchase it and enjoy the word of God contained in it.
Yet the books and music are priced at a value similar to other imported books in secular for-profit books stores. So, not making much profit from it? Well, that means the secular book stores in Indonesia are willing not to make a lot of profit from their imported books.
And let’s talk about the art work. My God, bandana’s for US$ 25, rows after rows of bandana’s, pieces of cloth for US$ 25, “it’s anointed” an innocent JPCC volunteer promotes. Wow, anointment is a mass produced good after all. God’s blessing provides monetary added value to a man-made item.
These bandanas reminds me of those free from purgatory papers sold by the ancient catholic church. “give x amount of silver, and you get a physical object imbued with the favor of God”. Do you feel discomfort reading this? that’s usually because something is wrong.
And then, the paintings, a 30cmx30cm painting of a cross for US 850, that’s about 42 month of schooling for an Indonesian children (assume US$ 20 of elementary eduction cost in rural areas of Indonesia). Where does the money go? Ah, and here we are talking about Sons of Light.
Then another painting, made by the Australian pastor in the afternoon session, sold for US 20,000, that’s 1 year of elementary education for 83 kids. We Christians, we nitpick about donating money to education or health, but we pay dollars for painting.
If something feels kinda wrong, it probably are
We can debate left and right, up and down, whether what we’re doing is technically correct or not. But, when a twinkle of consciousness speaks, it’s a early sign, and if you see more and more twinkle of consciousness speaks, that means you have a problem, or at least an ethical problem, or even a perception of an ethical problem.
And for an institution at JPCC, even a perception of an ethical problem is simply “what a waste”
The world is longing for a shining city on a hill, untarnished. Many church has fail, worldly concerns sways them. But it’s no reason for JPCC to fall to the same trap in a different manner. Please, be that untarnished city.