The Consumer-driven Church
In his book, Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants, Dr. Dennis Okholm states, "…in our desire to maximize our return on investments in reaching people for Christ, we...are often captives of the consumer-driven, efficiency-minded, results-oriented culture in which we grow our churches. But [Saint] Benedict and his contemporaries remind us that Christians mature more like trees than like fast-spreading computer viruses....We have become consumers of religion rather than cultivators of a spiritual life."
The spiritual life that Okholm speaks of involves making disciples. To make a disciple, one must enter into the life of another, show the love of Christ in deed, share the good news of Christ in word, and continue on developing maturity in Christ. It truly hurts me to say that we seem more interested in cultivating empires with steeples than we do in making disciples.
So many churches in America are like the Super Wal-Mart, offering a little of everything in order to get the buy-in of the consumer. We, Christians, shop for a church where the pastor preaches our kind of sermon and wears our kind of clothes on stage, the band plays our kind of music (or the choir sings our kind of songs), the youth group fits our teens, the children’s ministry gets our approval, and the nursery has walls decorated with Noah’s Ark. We make our list of “grocery items” and choose the church that has the most items checked off. We also choose our country club with the same basic principles.
Let’s face it. Many of us may choose to attend a church based on what we want, and not what God may want. We may pray for God’s direction, but when we pray, we ask for God to lead us to a church that fits our preferences, fills our lifestyles with pleasure and goodness, and feeds our souls with what we hunger for the most: entertainment, satisfaction, comfort, and well-being.
What would it take for a Christian to desire a particular church as a place where he can be discipled in the truths of God’s Word so he can utilize his spiritual gifts to edify the body and reach the lost? How many Christians would join a particular church for the purpose of seeking to make it better used for the Kingdom? Tell me: have you ever heard a Christian say, “I want to join this church because I feel I can best be used here.”
Perhaps this is the mentality Christ wants us to have—to be passionate to give, rather than to receive. Perhaps Christ wants us to be passionate to sacrifice to spread His gospel, rather than expect others in a church to sacrifice to fit our preferences of ministry. Perhaps Christ wants us to come to the point where we are willing to risk it all to bring the gospel to the nations, and perhaps that starts with you in your church.