A major issue in our western consumerist culture is that consumerist concerns are immediately applied to the way church is viewed and practiced. What can be offered for me? What do I gain by being a part of this church? What can we do to attract more folks?
While this is not only a problem in the contemporary or western Church (think of the issues mentioned by Paul concerning preachers in it for their own gain, or the Corinthian battle for pneumatic-supremacy). Yet, it has been sharpened by our propensity to consume. If we don’t find what we are shopping for then we move on. This does not tend to be driven by any biblical notion of priorities for participating in the life of the church. Instead, it seems to be driven by market values (e.g., programs).
Certainly there is much to be said for trying to reach our culture in relevant ways, but should it be done at the expense of seriously thinking through our practices as the church? Why do we offer this or that message or program? Why do we feel the need for it? In fact, what is the purpose of the Church? Why do we exist and to what end? Do our various programs actually advance this center or do they simply offer trendy appeals to consumers?
I have often remembered the words of old-time evangelist Vance Havner who wrote, “Your job as the pastor is not to fill the pews, but to fill the pulpit.” If we are faithful to what matters, we will not try (by other routes) to accomplish what God has determined to do if we are faithful.