On Christian consumerism

My family spent quite some time ‘church hunting’ the year before last. 8 months. We left the church that we’d easily settled into for numerous reasons, but then we found ourselves in the equivalent of no-man’s land. With a church on every corner, we still couldn’t find one we liked. After 8 long months of church shopping (church hopping?) we found one that we love. And now it factors into all our major decisions – finances, potential moves, schedules, and such. We won’t make a decision that would compromise our commitment to our church.

A July quote from Dean Abbott (of Inspired by a True Story) from an article he did for Infuze Magazine:

Churches have made enormous efforts to attract business, radically altering their worship services and scrapping traditional rites and rituals when these fail to draw the crowds. The adoption of consumerist attitudes has even worse effects on church life when it comes to the teaching of unpopular doctrine. Any serious affront a church attender encounters in the teaching at one church can be avoided by simply finding another church, another brand, whose teaching fits more comfortably.

I find the idea of a church as a brand somewhat disturbing (especially when it involves shopping for ‘popular,’ or people pleasing, teaching), but it’s often quite true. I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere, but here in comfortable suburbia, there’s a church (or two or three) on every corner, and the competition for attenders (and tithers) is fierce. Because of it, finding a ‘suitable’ church can take quite some time, and a great deal of frustration.

Dear reader, what’s the balance? When is it worthwhile to seek out a new church? And how much should churches cater to the whims of the ‘market’? What’s the balance between commitment to a body of believers, and finding something that satisfies your own church needs?

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2 thoughts on “On Christian consumerism

  1. We began church shopping over four years ago when our former church home went emergent. This has been an extremely painful, desolate and challenging time. Needless to say, finding a church home can be a formidable challenge. We’ve learned a lot in these four years, primarily that the Western church is in a desperate state of man-centered theology in which God and His Word play a minor role.

    What’s the balance between commitment to a body of believers, and finding something that satisfies your own church needs? I don’t think there is a balance. I think that the scales tip in favor or giving rather than receiving. If the essentials are in place we must look for a place to serve the Body.

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  2. I know in our area, even though there are several mega churches, 75% do not have a church they call home and attend regularly.

    The goal of Christ’s church is to bring the Good News to those who need it and make disciples…..Different churches reach different people…..

    Most people do look for their needs to be met…When someone goes from being a consumer to a contributor or a participant they may still, at another stage of life, go back to being a consumer…..

    Most people who are church hunting, I think, are looking for the feel they liked at their old church…..That makes church hunting more difficult…..

    I tell chruch shoppers to open up to God giving them something new for where they are in their spiritual walk.

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