In 2019 economists expect American shoppers to spend a whopping $100 million dollars on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This number is a reminder that Americans love to shop. Brick and mortar stores. Online retailers. It really doesn’t matter. Americans love to shop.
I think most pastors would agree, in the United States our shopping habits have spilled over into the way we approach church. Our culture trains us to be consumers, and we naturally approach church with every intention of getting “the best bang for our buck.”
For some church shoppers, this consumer mentality prevents them from ever putting down roots and making a real connection to a local church. These church shoppers go on a never ending quest for the perfect church that simply doesn’t exist.
For other church shoppers, this consumer mentality causes them to focus on things that just don’t matter. These church shoppers obsess about church size, musical style, and particular programs that cater to every member of the family.
Our consumer culture can certainly have toxic effects on church life. However, there are times in life when you have to “shop” for a new church. Maybe you move to a new community. Maybe your church closes its doors. Maybe your church drifts away from the truth. If you attend church long enough, odds are you will have to “shop” for a church at some point in your life. When you find yourself looking for a new church, these are a few things you ought to look for.
- Preaching, not Pep-Talks. First and foremost, find a church where the Word of God is unapologetically proclaimed. You can find plenty of Ted-style-talks online. At church, look for the Word of God made plain through expository preaching.
- Worship, not Performance. Corporate worship should not be a concert-like production designed to entertain. Instead, it should be a time where the people of God gather together to acknowledge and celebrate the glory of God.
- Mission, not Busyness. Some programming is unavoidable and essential for every church. However, programming and a busy calendar is not always evidence of a church that is serious about engaging in the mission of making disciples.
- Service, not Consummerism. Church should be a place where God’s people are encouraged to use their gifts for the good of others. A church that never challenges you to move beyond “consumer” is a church you don’t want to “buy.”
- Godliness, not Personalities. Too many people worry about the age of the pastor, the wardrobe of the pastor, the social media platform of the pastor, and the charisma of the pastor. Instead, look for a church that has godly leadership.