“Consumerism, is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods or services in ever greater amounts.”# Most of us know what consumerism has done to our western world; and by now we are probably familiar with what the North American culture of consumerism has done to the church. It has created churches which try to out-do each other in providing services, programs, and goods. It has led to pastors who feel they must provide a congregation with a multitude of things that meet the felt needs of those who attend. It causes pastors to worry that if they don’t meet all these needs someone else will come along who will meet these needs and the people will trade them in for a better church experience.
I recently spoke with a pastor who told me that he really wanted the people in his church to get into small groups to serve their neighbours and their neighbourhoods. He dreamed of the day when people would come to see this as the priority and be less focussed on the kind of music in the Sunday morning worship service. With just a bit of irony in my voice, I told him that our church had developed a simple system for solving the perpetual problem of people attending the Sunday morning gathering and not attending small groups – we got rid of the the Sunday morning gathering.
Hugh Halter says,
There’s only one way to overcome the problem of consumerism. Not two or three ways, not a program, not a sermon for you to preach or a class for you to teach. Just one way to break the pattern:
You have to remove what they are consuming.
. . . if what we give to people isn’t appreciated, doesn’t inspire them toward the life of Christ, or doesn’t lead them to real growth, your only option is to provide less . . . .*
We think Halter has it right. LifeHouse Christian Church is seeking to be a place where we limit our consumerism and seek to care for and lead each other toward Christ. May God guide us and give us wisdom as we stumble toward this goal.
*Halter, H., & Smay, M. (2010). And: The Gathered and Scattered Church. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.