If we can start to compare our perceived needs with what Christ’s church is actually meant to be, we can start moving towards a healthier understanding of need and avoid destroying the local church for not meeting all our expectations. We all have this natural disposition to be consumers. The question we should really be asking is, are we consuming things that lead to self-fulfillment and self-glory, or are we consuming the means of grace that God himself wants us to receive with glad hearts for his glory and our good?
I love being a pastor. I love being able to preach God’s word and serve his people in so many ways. Yet, over the last ten years in ministry, I have seen an underlying issue in myself, as well as many of the people in the church (not just the one I serve). This is the issue of consumerism.
One of the greatest dangers to the local church today is consumerism.
Consumerism often shows itself when people share with me that they are overwhelmed with church life and need to take a step back. This often means forsaking the regular fellowship with God’s people to seek out some sort of self-realization. The heartbreaking part of watching this repeatedly over the years is the downward spiral that typically follows as people become distant from the worship service and living amongst the people of God.
Not only have I watched people become distant, I have seen them abandon the faith by “stepping back” or “figuring out what they believe.” This saddens me—and many other Christians as well—because it often shows that people aren’t actually consuming the good things God is graciously giving them. Instead, they become consumed by guilt, or worse, they go and consume what the world and the evil one offer.
One of the greatest dangers to the local church today is consumerism. Our culture is heavily driven by a mutual understanding between ourselves and advertisement companies that we all want to want things. It’s as if we have been trained to redefine the word “want” as “need.” Whereas one hundred years ago, people needed food, shelter, and clothing, today we all “need” the latest iPhone, the right outfit, and even the perfect church.
If you have been in the church for even a couple of minutes, it doesn’t take long to identify what people believe the church “needs” to look like and function like. Even more telling is why people leave churches. Often times the perceived “needs” that aren’t being met are things like better music, a more dynamic preacher, more ministries, better coffee, and anything that somehow feeds the consumer’s desires.
Are we aware of the depth of consumerism we bring to the church?
The reality is, most of us are this way. We may have different perceived “needs” that we demand of the church, but the question is, are we aware of the depth of consumerism we bring to the church? If we can start to compare our perceived needs with what Christ’s church is actually meant to be, we can start moving towards a healthier understanding of need and avoid destroying the local church for not meeting all our expectations.
We all have this natural disposition to be consumers.