Friday, June 13, 2008

Consumerism in the Church

Lately I've been in some discussions about our particular model of church with a few really bright critics. It's good to allow others to ask challenging questions, and to ask them of ourselves.

Some people just don't like big churches. Others really resist the idea of one church having multiple campuses. And the idea of having a communicator appear via video is pretty "outside the box" for many.

The cool thing is that there is room in the body of Christ for all of these thoughts. I'm not going to knock your model of reaching people. There are very few things worth arguing about, and if you are encouraging people to love God and love people in stronger and more authentic ways, them I'm going to cheer you on!

But there is something I need to rant about today, for just a little bit.

"Consumerism" in the church.

Some are clearly against it. Me? I'm all for it! But the key question is, which consumers?

The consumers inside the church? The ones that walk past a pastor and say, "Great message?" Or, the one who says, "I just can't imagine church without small groups." The sentiments might be the same as yours, but they are still consumer-mindset sentiments.

So, the real question becomes, "Which consumers are you going to listen to?" Will you listen to the consumers inside the church, or the consumers outside the church?

When you listen to consumers inside the church, you end up with multiple services, each with a different style of music. Or you have 87 ministries to meet every potential need. Except that next month you'll have to add more to meet new needs.

When you listen to consumers outside the church, you start to look like Jesus. I'm definitely for that.


OpenID davidksmith said...

Great thoughts Rich.

I do think at some level we all listen to the "consumers" within the church if we desire to be relvent with our message (there are definitely certian venues within the church that are just for "insiders" and you obviously want to be relevant w/ them, as revelance calls for seeking to consumeristically connect with your audience (at some level).

(NOTE: this brings up another big issue here, is that this discussion is dependent upon your strategy and target audience for various environments...i.e. worship services...again, different models here and not one model is perfect).

At the same time I feel that if you do seek to appeal to the outside consumers, multiple services can be a natural outflow of this decision. For example, if your target is fairly large, then that probably entails various interests, thereby creating various worship opportunities.

In the customized society we live in, I think if you truly adopt an outside consumer mentality, then it would be inevitable to have various worship experiences based on the various genres that appeal to VERY diverse society.

(however, if you narrow your target to the 28-year-old, unchurched male...then discussion over and rock out to NIN. I'm all about that and that model is one needed within the rich diversity of church strategy)

June 13, 2008 5:15:00 PM EDT  
OpenID said...

Amen and amen!!

June 13, 2008 10:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Nick said...

I guess we read a lot of the same blogs where some of those discussions have been taking place. We're clearly on the same page on those issues and it's been good to hear from someone living it out.

People can consume and contribute, the church should have both and never just one. Insiders should consume to grow AND contribute to grow and help with the mission. Outsiders will mostly consume but will eventually contribute more and more as their life is changed and they latch on to the mission.

June 15, 2008 11:39:00 PM EDT  

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