6 Ways to Counter “Consumer Christianity”

It’s no secret that North American Christianity has a ring of consumerism to it. It can be a self-centered, “what will you provide for me” religion that invites churchgoers to move from church to church until they find what most pleases them. Here are six ways to counter that tendency, however:

  1. Critique as needed, but offer hope and transformation. When the gospel bids us to take up our cross and deny ourselves (Matt. 16:24), we cannot ignore a Christianity that seems to put self at the center. On the other hand, we help no one if our approach is simply to blast away at the problem and offer no sense of forgiveness, hope, and change.
  2. Don’t miss the Bible’s teachings on sin, lostness, and grace. I don’t know many preachers who intentionally ignore these topics in their sermons, but I’m not sure we always help people see the depth of their lostness without Christ. As long as people fail to see their desperate need for Jesus, they’ll lean toward self-centeredness.
  3. Strive for excellence in all you do as a church. None of us is perfect, and the church must be a place where hurting, flawed people can come. At the same time, though, we sometimes settle for mediocrity in how we do church—and then wonder why no one pays attention to what we do. Do church well, but do it to glorify God rather than to attract consumers.
  4. Reject the spirit of competition among churches. I saw it first as a pastor (and if I’m honest, I must admit that I played the game, too), and I still see it as I speak around the country. Too many church leaders and members build themselves up by tearing down sister congregations; that is, they appeal to consumers by showing how their “product” is better than others. In my judgment, consumerism would not be as strong if we promoted and honored other congregations that preach the gospel.
  5. Work with other pastors to identify “shoppers.” My point here is that some church members move from church to church in the same community, coming and going whenever they feel a church has not met their needs. If we pastors allow them to move their membership around the city without anyone’s raising questions about their track record, we’re unintentionally promoting consumerism ourselves.
  6. Be upfront with potential members of your church. If we want to help believers see that church is not solely about us, we need to make this issue a front-door one. A strong membership class that calls potential members to Christlike living and sacrificial obedience may not solve the issue fully, but it will go a long way in the right direction.

What are your thoughts about this topic?     


  • Kent Anderson says:

    I think there is a difference between meeting their needs and meeting their expectations. The church definitely seeks to address their needs, but their expectations, well that is something else.

  • Alexis says:

    #6 Seems to be an issue of dissension in churches today. The issue being that we are already members of the body of Christ as believers. But the key word there is “believers” implying “like-mindless” in our Christian beliefs. We want to take care in who is teaching our children in VBS and Sunday school and youth events. Who is leading our men’s group and our women’s bible study. Who is on a pastor search team and who has influence over that team? Who are we allowing to be part of our governance authority?
    Membership is not elitism, at least it shouldn’t be, it also should not exclude worshipers from being participants in all areas with the exception of teaching, leading and governance decisions.
    Membership should be seen for what it is, a responsibility to protect God’s church from false prophets, a responsibility to govern the business side of the church with God always being forefront and the Word being the direction.
    It should not be used in arrogance because membership numbers do not necessarily match attendance numbers. And there-in lies another obstacle. If you are an inactive member should you have the responsibility of also being a voting member? How a congregation answers that concern is important. Attendance cards?
    And what if a worshipper just wants to come to worship, study and fellowship. What if membership has caused them nothing but grief and hurt in the past? Membership should not be pressured on them but a visit(s) with the pastor is appropriate to be sure they are not a bad seed that will wreck havoc on the spiritual health of the congregation.
    All that being said, how ever membership is defined, a class studying the spiritual requirement of membership, the constitution and by-laws of the congregation, the expectations of membership is vital. This is outside of a conversion class, new Christians need discipleship prior to membership. Those coming from another denomination need orientation to the theology of the new denomination and discipleship. We all need a mentor to walk beside us.

    Any variation that does not protect Jesus’s flock from wolves
    is irresponsible. Reference the letters to the seven churches in

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