Consumerism is not a new phenomenon in the West. It’s so ingrained in our lives that confronting it is like rejecting the air we breathe. As a society, we don’t simply consume to live; we live to consume.
But here’s the thing: study after study reveals it’s not working. Most data, in fact, suggest the opposite. The more we consume, the less satisfied and fulfilled we feel.
Sadly, it’s so easy for churches to fall into the trap of consumerism. We (the church) provide a good, on-demand product (God, music, message) for the customer (churchgoers).
In this model, a senior pastor can unintentionally move from shepherd to CEO, managing people instead of lovingly leading them to Jesus. Elders become board members, overseeing corporate interests and making sure the necessary returns on investment are gained, rather than shepherding the flock of God among them (1 Peter 5:2).
Further, staff become dispensable cogs, used only to implement vision and hit targets. Membership becomes a model for tracking how well we’ve sold the product. Even more glaring is that evangelism, service, and outreach become strategies to strengthen the brand and attract the “target” (often homogenous) audience.
When these things happen, the church shifts from a radically diverse family who follows Jesus together to a transactional corporation, largely filled with consumers. At this point, the church is scarcely different from corporations who have no concern for the glory of Christ or the transformation of sinners.
Worldly metrics for success can make the church appear healthy when, in reality, it’s dying.