“I’m Not Getting Fed”:Confronting the voice of Consumer Christianity

As an American I live in a consumer culture. Just check out the cereal isle of your local grocery store and take note of how many options there are for corn flakes and that is just corn flakes! We’ve coined phrases like, “The customer is always right,” “the customer is king,” and my favorite slogan from days gone by, “Your way, right away.” We’re used to paying for things and getting what we want. Almost every industry has someone else competing to offer a better or alternative product so we are never without a choice in the matter. You have tons of options when it comes to car insurance, cell phone coverage, or even what kind of pick-up you want to drive.

i'm not getting fed

To be fair, that’s probably healthy for our economy… but when we carry consumerism into other area’s of our life it can be deadly. We’re so used to getting upgrades, new leases, and trading in the old model when something new, better, more convenient that we have let that mindset creep into our relationships. Can you imagine cutting ties with a friend because a better friend came along? Or how about filing for divorce in order to get a newer younger model? (unfortunately those phrases have been used). Consumerism can trick us into thinking we have options in places where we should have commitments.

I see it in the church too. Folks send their children to one church for it’s children’s ministry, their students go to another church for student ministry, and the parents attend a different church’s community group and maybe they all show us on a Sunday morning where they have opinions about the musical style or the preaching. Folks talk about a pastor or church and say something like, “I wasn’t getting fed” and “My needs weren’t being met,” and “they didn’t have anything for me.” (All phrases that remind me of when my children were infants by the way) And that’s the rub, Christianity for these folks is just a product to be consumed. It’s about getting their needs wants met.

While that may work for corn flakes, it doesn’t work in real relationships like marriage. Consumers quit on marriages because they are consumed with their own needs instead of the needs of their partner. They would soon discover that there is actually real joy in focusing on meeting the needs of your partner and marriages can flourish that way, but that takes commitment. It’s the same way with raising children. As a society, we remove children from the homes of parents who can’t see past their own needs to meet the needs of their children. If you’re a parent, you know that there is a real joy that comes in meeting the needs of your child and even providing some of their wants along the way (despite everything their selfishness may put you through).

That is how church is supposed to work. We are to look out for one another (Philippians 2:4) and work together (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) and meet regularly for encouragement (Hebrews 10:25) and in doing so train our children to be those who commit in relationships, not those who consume. The church is the people, not the program, not the building… the people, and that implies a relationship one to another.

If you really want to grow, do more than just absorb the programming. Get involved, be invested, participate in the life of the church by volunteering. If you have children and you think the children’s ministry could up it’s game, don’t send your kids to another church, volunteer for the children’s ministry team! If you don’t/ can’t volunteer… provide snacks, offer to help financially if you are able, find a way to invest. Find the church the Lord leads you too and get plugged in and serve. You will find there is more joy in the commitment than in consuming because church really has more to do with relationships than it does with products and programs. Ultimately it is about a relationship with Jesus Christ.

I get how God might call you to serve another church. He does this sort of thing all the time. He certainly called my family from one church to serve another, but be sure you are following God’s call and not your own consumer impulses. And as much as possible worship together with one congregation.


4 thoughts on ““I’m Not Getting Fed”:Confronting the voice of Consumer Christianity

  1. Pingback: “I’m Not Getting Fed”:Confronting the voice of Consumer Christianity – Praying for the millennials

  2. From the moment we walked into That Church, we knew that it had some rough edges – but it showed the faintest glimmer of promise. The pews were 80% empty, with just about two dozen total regulars scattered throughout the room to make it look less desolate. Most of them were elders in their sixties. At first they did some contemporary music, which we complimented them for and always appreciated. But eventually they switched to doing hymns only which turns out to be unbearable when two dozen off-key elders sing them a Capella. Every idea we suggested was rejected out of hand. Sometimes we tried to build a consensus, but nobody was open to doing anything different. Every once in a while someone would tells us exactly what we could do to fulfill their vision – but not once did they take into account our advice or listen when we told them that it was a bad idea that was doomed to failure because of how they planned to implement it. In one year, That Church lost it’s worship leader (the one who did the contemporary music), the pastor and his family, as well as my family – roughly 1/3 of the church. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do for That Church if they won’t let you do anything at all.


  3. Thanks for commenting Jamie! I see the the Elders in the church culture you described as succumbing to a form of consumerism as well. This whole hymns vs contemporary music (if reduced to our preferences) can easily be all about our options and opinions rather than worship… regardless of what side of the debate we fall down on.

    It’s sad that this church has gone through such a hard time. I hope they are still in love with Jesus. If so, He can do a lot with that Church, If not… It will probably die out (Revelation 2:1-7).

    The key is, where is God calling you? Are you supposed to stay and make a difference as difficult and slow as that may be? Or has he given you freedom to go somewhere else?


  4. This is a particularly difficult region, three quarters of the churches are Southern Baptist, and because they hold to complementarianism, most of the regulars are reduced to a “sit and watch the men run things” or else “go watch nursery”. Neither of which I’m inclined to do. For the most part I just blog and learn foreign languages online because I don’t see much point in trying to do anything about churches that just refuse to let me do anything. If they don’t think that I should be teaching about church history or examining doctrine, I’m more than happy to let them run things as they please by just not going to church at all.


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