Church consumer or member?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past three years, you know about how hard things have been.

It has been—and will continue to be—a time of great change. As I’ve highlighted elsewhere, we are entering a period which will probably be marked by increased uncertainty, anxiety and complexity.

In the midst of all this is God’s church. Armed with the good news of Jesus, we are central to God’s strategy for a bruised and bruising world.

And yet. Something the church is battling, especially in North America, is the rising tide of consumerism. Local congregations are increasingly seen as service-providers responding to individual needs.

When Paul wrote that “you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” in 1 Corinthians 12:27 he was teaching about their inter-dependency and unique contributions to the ongoing mission of Jesus in the world.

That ain’t no country club.

How do YOU think of the church? Are you in passive mode or active mode?

Recently I was honoured and privileged to interview Thom Rainer, the president of Church Answers and former CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. We talked about his books “I Am A Church Member” and “The Post-Quarantine Church.” You can listen to (or watch) our talk with the link below. In a non-guilt-inducing way, he describes a concerning trend: the emergence of the church consumer. This is contrasted with what the Bible says about being the body of Christ. 

If you want, you can check it out. Either way, ask yourself how you think about the church, and whether or not you are in passive mode or active mode.

We all have different abilities and gifts. And I realize that some seasons of life are harder than others. But look at the big picture. A body is a body.

“There have been some challenges, to be sure, but there have been many more opportunities,” Rainer writes: “[T]he church is entering the most amazing and exciting days it has seen in decades—maybe even in centuries.”*

It is a time of uncertainty, but also of opportunity. Are you watching from the sidelines? Or are you on the field?


NEW PODCAST: “Thom Rainer on the difference between church consumers and church members.” It was a real honour and pleasure to interview Thom Rainer, former CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources and dean of Southern Seminary, and currently president of Church Answers. He wrote a blog called “11 Signs You Are Becoming a Church Consumer Instead of a Committed Church Member.” In this talk we unpack some of what he meant (in a non-guilt-inducing way), some current trends, and why this time of great uncertainty and challenge is an opportunity. The local church is God’s Plan A. Click here to watch or listen, or simply tune in to ‘The Pulse Podcast with Matthew Ruttan’ wherever you listen: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, Audible, or TuneIn.

–*Thom S. Rainer, The Post-Quarantine Church: Six Urgent Challenges and Opportunities That Will Determine the Future of Your Congregation (Carol Steam: Tyndale Momentum, 2020), 8-9.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

You can also listen and subscribe wherever you enjoy podcasts:

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