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Consumers or Channels

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To consider whether we are consumers or channels.

Preparation and materials

  • You might like to have a whiteboard available so you can write out the definitions of some of the words that are explored during the assembly, but this is optional.

  • You might also like to find an image of the English Channel and have the means to display it during the assembly, but this, too, is optional.

  • Have available a recording or video of the hymn based on Francis of Assisi's prayer, 'Make me a channel of your peace', and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.


  1. What does it mean to be a ‘consumer’?

    Identify that we tend to link consuming with food, with buying.

  2. Two definitions of the word ‘consumer’ are: 

    a person who purchases goods and services for personal use
    someone who can make the decision whether or not to purchase an item.

    You could write these on the whiteboard, if using.

  3. Let's consider our consuming habits this week. 

    Have we eaten or overeaten? 
    Have we shopped for what we needed or what we wanted?
    Have we recycled and cared for the planet’s resources or wasted them? 
    Are we happy to be called consumers?

  4. We live in a consumer society and it is certainly ‘all consuming’, especially with Christmas on the horizon. 

    The definition of a 'consumer society' is:

    a society in which the buying and selling of goods and services is the most important social and economic activity. 

    This, too, can be written on the whiteboard, if using.

    Are we happy with that view of our society?

  5. Consider the meanings of the verb from which the word 'consumer' comes.

    The following can be added to the whiteboard as you speak, if using.

    To 'consume’ means to:

    destroy or expend by use
    spend wastefully
    absorb, engross
    use up

    Rather negative words, wouldn't you agree?
    Would this sum up our Christmas spending?

  6. Now let’s consider synonyms for the word ‘consume’.

    Again, the following can be added to the whiteboard as you speak, if using.


    Are we still happy to be called ‘consumers’ now?

  7. Consuming is what we do at Christmas. Christians believe that this is not the real meaning of Christmas. 'Christmas' comes from the word ‘Christ’ and nowhere in the Bible do we see Jesus Christ as someone who uses up, devours, consumes and spends wastefully. Neither did he encourage his followers to live like that! 

    Christians believe Jesus was not a consumer but a channel.

  8. Let's consider the meaning of the word 'channel'.

    Again, the following definitions can be added to the whiteboard as you speak, if using.

    In communication, a channel is:

    a medium through which a message is transmitted to its intended audience.

    In geography, a channel is:

    a length of water wider than a strait, joining two larger areas of water, especially two seas.

    Christians believe that God sent Jesus to be a channel in both these senses. 

    First, Jesus’ task was to communicate the message of God’s love to a broken and needy world by his spoken words, his life and actions. 

    Second, his task was to bring God and human beings together again, in relationship. Jesus was a channel of blessing.

Time for reflection

This Christmas, what will we be - consumers or channels of blessing? 

Dear God,
Please help us to be channels of blessing to other people.
Please help us to be more concerned about the needs of others than with what we can get for ourselves.


Publication date: November 2015   (Vol.17 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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