In the church we complain about the consumer mentality of Christians. How they are in the church for what they can get out of it and as soons as the people find someone that offers something they want, they leave the church. It is a real problem for the church but what we in the church fail to realize is we are creating it.
After all, who do we consistently utilize in our services? Week after week, someone preaches/teaches, someone (maybe a couple people) plays instruments and someone sings. If the only people we utilize are the people who can preach, play and sing, the rest of the people are only going to show up for the “show” and as soon as they find a better show, bye, bye!
This creates a vicious cycle. Pastors and worship leaders are under immense pressure to keep the service up to a high standard to keep the uninvolved happy, which makes them focus all their efforts on those three elements, which keeps the uninvolved uninvolved. It doesn’t have to be that way.
My life was radically changed when my pastor gave me a simple project. A way to use my gift of art to serve the Lord and the church. That open door fired my imagination and showed me a world of possibilities for my gift because, don’t miss this, I discovered what I should have known all along, my God made me and gifted me on purpose, for a purpose. What if we could show that to everyone in our congregations? What would that do? Rather than always looking for what we can get, we would be looking for ways to give.
The application of this can be difficult. People are very resistant to change and some people will get upset when we try to change the status quo, but if they would just give into it, a lot of them would find real meaning and God-given purpose in their lives. This, in my opinion, is the key to overcoming consumerism. We need to help people find and use their gifts, giving them ownership and teaching them to serve. Those of us who do it know there is nothing better than serving God in the way you were created to serve him.
Scripture bears this out. Consumer churches are pastor centric, relying on the pastors for everything, while at the same time treating their pastors like employees to be hired and fired at will as soon as the pastor makes them uncomfortable or fails to take the congregation where it wants to go. Remember when the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years? That was the end result of the congregation disregarding their leader (and by extension, their God) and trying to go where they wanted to go. A pastor is someone called by God to take the Congregation where God wants it to go. Ephesians 4 gives this list of gifts God gives specifically for church leaders and then it says these gifts are given… to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. In other words church leaders are gifted to empower God’s people to do the work which builds up the church and when we do this, the church will grow up and look like Jesus. Pastors who do everything for their congregations perpetuate consumerism. Pastors who empower their people to do what God is calling them to do, build the body of Christ.
Church, we need to have systems in place that empower the people to be who God made them to be. Our churches need to be safe places to fail. We need to create low risk high reward situations for our congregants. We need to move our people from the pews to the mission and we need to do it soon.
I believe helping churches to do this is my mission and calling. I would love to help you. Contact me. Let’s work together to build up the body.