One of the phrases that is creeping into our church vocabulary is that someone is "church shopping," meaning they are "trying out" different churches to find one that they like.
What does that mean? "Church shopping?" Does someone "shop" for a church like they are shopping for groceries? Checking out the different prices and qualities and brands that are being sold? Cutting out coupons so that they get the best deals?
Arthur Boers in his book, "In The Other Side," writes, "I often visit newcomers in town and find them to be church shopping. They want to know what they can get out of church. Churches are one more consumer commodity. Worship services are not a place for us to serve God and neighbor but a place where people expect to purchase the best: inspiring worship, good music, moving sermons, quality child care. As if we buy God and not vice versa.
I agree with the idea of finding a church that you can be connected to - but on what basis and on what criteria?
What if the criteria was based - not on which church met my needs as I "shopped," but whose needs can I meet as I "serve".
It comes down the a word that Randy Frazee uses in his book, "The connecting church," - consumerism. He writes, "Consumerism is about consumption - the concentrated effort to consume things in order to meet one's real and perceived needs and wants. While in its basic form consumption is both necessary and permissible, when it is practiced in an environment where the individual is sovereign, it can easily become an imbalanced obsession that kills community. One of consumerism's driving principles is rights over responsibility. In this system, the pursuit and protection of one's rights always wins out over one's responsibility to his or her neighbor."
"I have my rights, you know," some cry out.
I've never had someone walk into my office, red-faced and upset, shouting, "I have my responsibilities, you know."
"Why aren't you letting me reach out in ministry." "I've been coming to our church for 45 years, why can't you let me minister more?" "I've been ministering in our church for 30 years, why can't I do more?" "I'm being fed too much, I need to work out by serving." "The services are too short - I want some more time to connect with God."
Well, you get the idea. My suggestion is to abandon the phrase, "church shopping," and instead say something like, "I'm looking for a community where I can connect and serve."
Just a thought.
1 hour ago