Consumer to Steward
If you’re in a location where you can afford to shop for a church, you’re pretty lucky. I happen to be in one of those areas where there are 20–30 churches within driving distance for me to be able to go. You’re really able to parse down into specifics about a style of music, what people wear, or even the type of sermon style that’s preferred. That’s really a different situation from what most Christians around the world experience. Many people don’t have that option of being able to shop for their preferences within a church.
The other problem with the perspective of shopping for a church is that you look for that perfect place, but the first thing to make it imperfect is for you to show up, for me to show up in that place. They’re definitely not perfect, by any means.
That happens when we think about shopping in general. You can be as discerning as you like when you’re shopping for something that you want. You can do all the comparisons and price checks, but then you come home and all of the sudden, you start to notice the problems that you hadn’t seen before and all the flaws that you hadn’t quite noticed, the angles and perspectives that you didn’t factor in.
That same thing happens when you come to church with a consumer mindset. You’re actually never able to fully commit or fully love. For anybody to actually grow to love the church, it’s necessary for them to come to terms with the flaws of their church, including their own flaws and problems that they contribute.
For anybody to actually grow to love the church, it’s necessary for them to come to terms with the flaws of their church, including their own.
The people that actually know the most bad about a church are usually the stewards of that place, and yet they’ve learned to love it for what it is, and more importantly, for what God has intended for it. So, what we need are more people who are willing to become stewards of the church, where the love grows out of their commitment for it, rather than people who stay in that perpetual consumer mindset, as if they’re shopping churches.
One of the challenges is that’s going to become even more difficult to resist in an era of virtual church. Most likely, no one will ever visit a church again unless they’ve already shopped through churches online and seen that presentation. It’s going to become even more difficult to take that step to switch from consumer to steward when we have that distanced mindset. But, that’s the only way that a church can truly function.
Collin Hansen is the coauthor with Jonathan Leeman of Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ Is Essential.
Do multiservice and multisite church models run counter to the pattern for the local church we see in the New Testament?
How should Christians think about political disagreements within the church and how much should politics be shared from the pulpit?
What problems with our lives, priorities, and even theology do we not recognize? What would it look like to wake up to our own blind spots and to lovingly engage with those with whom we disagree?
Frustration is part of the sanctification process that God intends for us in church.