Most of the time “I’m not getting fed” is a lame excuse to say the church is not catering to my desires and preferences. It’s a clear indicator of We have seen the growing trend of church member consumerism, and it has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Here are some reasons why:
1. Because they never get satisfied. That is the nature of consumerism. Desires are met only for a season. Then the church member wonders what you have done for them lately. And if the church members feel like he or she has gotten all they can get from the church, they will move on to another church or drop out altogether.
2. Because they have no greater purpose. We all know church members who are the pillars of the church in the best sense of the word. They are giving, serving, and sacrificial. They have a greater purpose than themselves. They seek to serve the Lord by serving others. They never ask, “What have you done for me lately?” because they are too busy doing for others. The consumer Christian has no purpose beyond his or her own preferences. And that’s really no purpose at all.
3. Because they are often divisive. Consumer Christians seek for themselves. And if they don’t get what they want, they can be critical and divisive. They may leave when they sense the support for their negativity is waning. They will complain that other church members did not support them. And they are, thankfully, correct.
4. Because they know better than everyone else. You can usually count on consumer church members to send the pastor an article or podcast link to demonstrate how other churches are doing things so much better. For the consumer church member, the grass is always greener – until they move to the greener grass of the next church. And then they see problems there.
5. Because they don’t understand the meaning of biblical church membership. Check out the characteristic of a church member in 1 Corinthians 12. It’s all about how the members of the body are functioning for the greater good of that body. And look at 1 Corinthians 13. We call it the “love chapter,” but it’s really how church members are to relate to one another and to the world. The consumer church members can’t relate to biblical church membership because it’s sacrificial and driven to serve others.
So, pastor, know that you are not alone when you hear those dreaded words, “I’m not getting fed.” It has been said countless times by countless self-centered church members. Rejoice in your church members who serve, encourage, love, and sacrifice. They are God’s instruments in your church.
The consumer church members are nothing but noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. When they leave, there is a lot more peace and God-given quiet in the church.
Acts 15 illustrates that effectively leading change in the church involves a process of listening attentively to the movement of the Holy Spirit, to Scripture, religious tradition, respected believers, noted experts and pertinent facts.
Here are the steps to that process and a potential application for leading change in the church:
- They listened to the conversion experience of the Gentiles. Application: Listen to those most impacted by the change.
- They listened to the Pharisee experts in Mosaic Law. Application: Listen to those most opposed to the change.
- They listened to respected believers witnessing these conversions. Application: Listen to respected lay leaders supporting the change.
- They listened to Peter’s perspective. Application: Listen to the Pastor and Staff’s perspective.
- They listened to Paul and Barnabas’s descriptions of signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles. Application: Listen to experts who have observed and experienced the impact of the change.
- They listened to James expounding on Scripture connecting the dots between Peter’s testimony and the words of Amos. Application: Listen to what God’s Word has to say.
- They listened to the Holy Spirit – “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” Application: Allow people time to pray and hear from God on the change.
- They voted on the change – “Then the apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church decided.” Application: Allow the church to vote on the change.
“When the people of Antioch read the letter, they rejoiced at the exhortation.”