For the most part, I am completely against bringing a consumer mentality into the church. In fact, I would be one pastor among many who is willing to say that the western consumer mentality has drastically hurt the church. Just talk to someone looking for a church and you will often hear a list of demands that a church must meet to gain the privilege of their attendance. We value what we get so much more than what we give. We have turned worship, preaching, programs, and even fellowship into commodities of the modern church growth movement. Not only do we have criteria for finding a church to meet our wants, we so easily leave when they are not satisfied. When it comes to consumer mentality in the modern church, don’t get me started!
So, how can I possibly say that there is an aspect of consumer mentality that the church really needs? Well, in all transparency, I really can’t. BUT…IF there were one, it would be that when the consumer sees what they value most and desire deeply, there is nothing stopping the power of a consumer to get it. Credit has become the greatest friend of consumer culture. How could this possibly be an attitude that is right for the church? Well, as far as consumerism is concerned, it’s not, but when it comes to the way we value Christ and his Kingdom, I wish the church had just a little more of the “I must have it now” attitude.
In Matthew 13:44-46 there are two back to back parables about someone finding something of great value and then making every sacrifice to get it. Sacrificing all to gain the item of great value is likened to the Kingdom of Heaven. We could say that the kingdom of heaven is like a man who upon seeing the latest model Ferrari, gives up all that he has to buy it. We could say that the kingdom of heaven is like a lady who sees the most beautiful ball gown ever on display and won’t let anything get in her way of buying it. It is not the ugliness of consumerism that is on display but the attitude that something is so valuable that you would do anything at all to obtain it. Well, this is the way we should view Christ. We should see the beauty of the cross, the victory of the resurrection, and the all surpassing greatness of his kingdom and say, “I must have him now.”
Imagine what might actually happen to the consumer mentality in our churches if what we wanted most was to love and serve our Savior and live for him in his kingdom. Imagine if our desire for Christ was greater than our desire for the list of demands on our list for finding a church that suits our needs. Now, I’m not saying that there are unimportant items on those lists. Bible teaching, caring fellowship, biblical leadership, gospel centered preaching, and many more are important factors in the life of a church. Is it possible that these good practices can even become a part of our consumer mentality? Yes. Instead, they should be the outworking factors of a body who are so committed to Christ that we are willing to give up all to get him. Is it possible that we are more concerned about whether the pastor is a good preacher, than we are about the Kingdom he is preaching about? Is it possible that we are more concerned that the music entices our voice than that King we are singing about? Is it possible that we are more concerned about the programs on offer for our family than the Christ we are hoping our children will stay in church for?
If you are going to apply anything from the consumer mentality in our culture to your Christian life, apply the “I must have it now” attitude. Don’t apply it to your list of demands, apply it to Christ and his Kingdom. If you do that, everything in your attitude and outlook changes.