Consumerism is on the rise.
America is a nation saturated in consumerism.
Our prosperity has taught us little. In the last 25 years, we have embraced the seduction of consumption. This is evident when our savings ratio and income ratios have changed.
Our current savings rate is two percent. This is 25% less than in 1950, and our income is 100% more. So, we are saving less, consuming more, and making more money than ever.
The statistics for Christians and believers differ little from the unchurched.
Consumerism has invaded the church and Christians have accepted consumerism as a part of the church culture.
Consumerism is a problem in the world and in the Church because it’s a problem in all of us.
Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate said, in the beginning, the church was a fellowship of men and women-centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.”
The “church business” is a huge enterprise in America. We shop for churches the same way we search for restaurants and other forms of entertainment. We look for trendy buildings, relevant leaders, the best servers, and the best value of our time.
When searching for a church family, the big question is, “What’s in it for me?”
But should it be?
John Crist says: “If people are treating churches like stores in the mall, maybe it’s because churches are acting like stores in the mall.”
For those who follow Jesus, the question is never, “What’s in it for me?” Jesus never called us to choose the church with the best amenities. Jesus calls us to follow Him. In following Jesus, there are assignments that require sacrifice and serving others.
“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 15:13, NKJ).
The command to the church is to love and to serve
But we have witnessed a shift in Christianity. Christians are now consumers of the commodities of the church. Consumer Christianity is counter-cultural to biblical Christianity.
Church coaches encourage stopping the sermon and offer drawings for families to go to dinner. And this is just one example of the ways we are trying to attract people.
In Sacred Roots, Pastor Jon Tyson writes:
“In a “church as entertainment” culture, instead of seeking to be equipped as disciples of Jesus, we are slowly formed into consumers and critics who give ratings and reviews on a local church’s performance. But when we expect the church to entertain us, it limits the church’s ability to challenge us. Entertainment rarely transforms.”
In our desire to entertain our guests, we drifted away from the ultimate purpose of the church.
Is this a major reason we see church attendance in decline?
In You Lost Me, Barna Group president David Kinnaman writes:
“Most young dropouts are not walking away from the faith; They are putting involvement in church on hold. In fact, as heart-rending as loss-of-faith stories are, prodigals are the rarest of the dropouts; Most are either nomads or exiles — those who are dropping out of conventional forms of the Christian community, not rejecting Christianity. Most young Christians are struggling less with their faith in Christ than with their experience of a church.”
The church in America is experiencing a mass exodus of regular attenders. Are people losing faith or just dumping the church? We aren’t sure.
Has the consumer mentality contributed to the downturn in attendance?
Consumerism is a trainer. It trains our brains to treat products as disposable. Consumerism is a way of life and consuming a church environment for self-gratification is the new normal.
Thomas Rainer said it best:
“Many of our congregations have become more like country clubs than churches, a place where some members demand their way instead of serving and self-sacrificing.”
The consumer mentality creates tension with finding high capacity volunteers. The consumer mentality is front and center and is not going away until we confront it head-on.
Consumer Christianity resembles:
The serve me Christian
Serving others is a mark of a believer. Jesus said; The greatest among us is the servant. Have we forgotten the words of Jesus? Are we being trained by the culture to consume being served rather than stepping up to serve?
The soak it all up Christian
Consumer Christians are looking for a feel-good experience. Nothing wrong with getting what you need. We seek to have our needs met, rather than seek to meet the needs of others. The soaker seeks to be filled, served, and encouraged. We realize that serving others is better for us than getting all we can and sitting on the can.
The entitled Christian
Entitlement is the new spiritual value. Teachers tell us how favored we are and entitled to everything God has to give. There is some truth here, but it’s also loaded with deception. Entitlement gone wrong creates narcissism and everything that genuine Christianity is not.
Medium Writer, Nolan Huber shares 7 signs of consumer Christians:
1. A consumer Christian demands to be served. A contributing Christian comes to serve.
2. A consumer Christian feels entitled. A contributing Christian is grateful.
3. A consumer Christian asks, “what do you think you are doing. A contributing Christian asks, “what do you think you will need?”
4. A consumer Christian points fingers when there are problems. A contributing Christian asks how they may contribute to the problem.
5. A consumer Christian focuses on their preferences. A contributing Christian is focused on the needs of others.
6. A consumer Christian focuses on what they will gain from following Jesus. A contributing Christian counts the costs of following Jesus.
7. A consumer Christian has trouble finding a church family. A contributing Christian joins a family and begins inviting new members into the family.
Jeffrey MacDonald says:
“Faith has become a consumer commodity in America. People shop for congregations that make them feel comfortable rather than challenged. They steer clear of formal commitments to Christian communities.”
Churchgoers realize that saving the church will require more than better programs, hazy rooms, or consuming the best of the celebrity pastors.
We have done all of that and look where we landed.
Let's take our own temperature and realize; this is not Burger King; we can’t have it our way.
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