“Consumer Christianity” is the Americanized brand of an extrabiblical, self-centered gospel. The come-and-see model of ministry we’ve developed over the past 100 years has produced several generations of Christians who assume that church is about them, for them, and because of them. So they shop around. Churches work so hard at having the best music, the most dynamic preacher, the most comfortable facility, the coolest kids programs, and the most up-to-date technology in their worship services. There is constant pressure on the church leadership toward these expectations. And when the church is not “meeting our needs” or “living up to our expectations,” we shop around… Consumer Christianity.
This vastly unbiblical phenomenon drives pastors and church leaders insane. It’s often this very issue that leads them to burn-out. The pressure is unreal in a consumer-based Christian culture. But what if we pastors are only sleeping in the bed we’ve made for ourselves? What if we have no one else to blame? What if we have a consumer-driven Christian culture because we’ve been selling a product instead of embodying a mission?
For so long our come-and-see, attraction-based model of ministry has compelled us to put everything we have into the Sunday morning experience. Come up with an excellent product. Promote that product. Invite people to come experience that product. Expect them to return weekly and buy into (or sell-out for) that product. But is the Sunday morning experience really the product we should be selling to our people?
The weekly worship time is vital to the Christian life. It is something we are not to fall into the habit of staying away from, as the author of Hebrews instructs us (Hebrews 10:25). But when I read the Bible and immerse myself into the 1st Century Christian culture, I can’t help but notice that Christianity was not about a weekly worship experience. It was about a daily life-style of submission to God and service to one another, coupled with a progressive, radical change from the old man into the new man. It was about the church not just gathering as the church, but scattering as the church, too.
The Sunday morning worship time is very important. But biblical Christianity cannot be wrapped up into a Sunday morning experience. Pastor, how can we complain about consumer-driven Christianity when for so long we have been selling nothing more than a Sunday morning product?
Being a Christ-follower is not about selling a product. It’s about embodying a mission. Not my mission, but God’s mission… a mission for the redemption of lost souls through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ. Instead of phrases like “come and see” or “powerful worship experience,” maybe we need to start using words like, “mobilize,” “release,” and “go.”
Gathering regularly as the Body of Christ is vital to following Jesus. But we are not to be in the business of selling this regular corporate experience – as some kind of product – to a consumer base with self-centered, vacillating preferences. We are to be embodying the mission of our Lord while equipping, resourcing, and mobilizing our people to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-14).
Grace and Peace,