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Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Rampant Consumeristic Mind-set

I know someone who chose to leave his home church of many years and started attending a megachurch because the opportunity for business contacts was far greater there. Granted, this sounds bad, but it just reflects the sort of church we have developed. In a sense, this person is simply living out the theology we have taught him to have.

Many pastors complain about the consumeristic mind-set in their churches. It is a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” attitude that causes the pastor to feel pressure to keep up with the megachurch around the corner. But our people have a consumeristic attitude because we have trained them to think this way. When we try to “sell” our worship and programs to the largest crowd possible, we will attract and reinforce a consumer mind-set.

Church growth used to be about adding souls to the church through the preaching of the gospel to the lost. Because we have foolishly come to equate church with the Sunday worship service, church growth has been reduced to increasing the attendance on Sunday mornings. Now we find ourselves competing with other churches for parishioners who are looking for the best service they can find.

4 comments:

David Phillips said...

Neil,

You are so right. Quite honestly, it's one of the things that has worn me out with the church - and I'm a pastor.

God is in the process of moving me out of my current ministry context. He may be moving me back into the marketplace. I've wanted to start some kind of movement for entrepreneurial ministry, and then in doing so try to develop a community of faith that shares life together and reaches people for Christ.

I'm tired of the show or production each week. I'm tired of the consumerism in our churches. I'm tired of the online-line theology. Everything is centered on the practical, not the deep issues and complexities and gray areas surrounding a relationship with God.

I'm also tired of the idea that if you lead a large church you are a success and a great leader.

Oh well, sorry for the rant Neil. You just hit a cord.

aaronsaufley said...

Right on again, Neil.

There are so many facets to this problem. In my experience as a church planter, many consumer-minded Christians tend to be Christ-admirers instead of Christ-followers. When they come into a new church, they seem excited at first, but then they expect your church to be like their old church (so why did they leave in the first place?!?). And while some leave your church quietly to find yet another church, others do not. They will attempt to push their agenda to the point of trying to split the church before they eventually leave (and leave a mess behind them--if leadership doesn't act quickly).

When we transitioned to a network of microchurches, and as we "learned" (for lack of a better term) to be more organic (which is an ongoing process), we've found that Christ admirers get very uncomfortable very quickly--it looks to be the nature of the environment combined with the Holy Spirit doing His work. They either let Him begin transforming them into Christ followers, or they pack up and start the search for "the perfect church" again.

Neil Cole said...

David, I think most of us who have done the dance feel for you. I am so grateful that I am no longer in that vicious "church-eat-church" world day in and day out.

Nevertheless, I am not free from the effects of it as we all are hurting because the body of Christ is consuming itself in some ugly, canabalistic manner.

When one part of the body hurts, we all feel the pain...at least we should.

Neil Cole said...

Good word Aaron!