After so many Facebook rants, I realized I have this blog thing and that I should use it more often. So, here is another one, church checkers! Let's get that soapbox set up here.
What is a Consumerist Christian?
So here's a question that's been bothering me lately. What is a "Consumerist Christian?" What do pastors and churches mean by this phrase, and is it a good thing or a bad thing? Because as far as I can tell, there are actually two different definitions for this phrase. One definition criticizes individual Christians, and the other criticizes local churches. Which one do you think churches use? (*wink wink*)
One definition is frequently used by churches in order to exploit people, their resources, their time, talents, and anything else they can suck out of you. The other is used by individual Christians annoyed by the increasingly materialistic and literally consumeristic environment and practices in local churches today.
The irony: Actually consumeristic and materialistic churches are the ones shaming people for being "consumerist" Christians according to the other definition. What the heck is going on here? Let's take a closer look.
The "Consumerist" Christian That Just Wants to be Fed, and Not Beaten
This is what I think is at the heart of the definition of Consumerist Christian when churches are trying to shame people, or what I would define more accurately as the Mature Christian.
While churches might make it sound like these Christians are greedy, lazy, or selfish by using the word "consumerist" to describe them, the truth is that these Christians are only looking for two things in their church: 1. To be fed the Word of God, and 2. To not be treated like human crap in the meantime.
Totally selfish, right? Like, what kind of monster would demand something as boring and and unpopular as Bible teaching, or something as selfish as love and kindness? Am I right?
You get my point.
See, when I think of the word "consumerist" I think of materialistic consumerism, such as the consumerist culture in America where we feel the need to constantly buy things and put way too much care and value into material goods. After all, that's the real dictionary definition of "consumerist".
But when churches use it to shame people for "demanding services" from their church, like Bible teaching and basic levels of decency and respect, they're not talking about actual consumer goods. They're talking about things the Christian has every right and reason to expect from their church and pastor. The Word of God, and Christian love.
So what the heck? Why are churches changing the meaning of the word "consumerist" in order to scold and shame Christians that want these perfectly reasonable services from their church? Well, you may not like my answer...but I believe it wholeheartedly.
It's this simple, and this sad:
Churches don't want to feed the Word because the Word is unpopular with the masses. The Word is boring to the masses. Even worse (in their eyes at least), the Word educates the Christian and helps them grow in knowledge and faith toward God, which frankly, the more nefariously motivated churches don't want.
They don't want mature Christians that understand the doctrines of Christianity so well that they won't be swayed or deceived by the occasional lie from the pulpit, like "you need to pay your tithing," or "you need church in order to have a relationship with Christ."
They don't want mature Christians that have grown to a point in their relationship with Christ that makes them more independent and self-reliant, than devoted, dependent, and submissive to their church.
They don't want to provide this service to the church for the purposes of their own popularity, success, and relevance. But rather than being honest about these motives in response to the question, "Why don't you teach the Bible more contextually?" or "Where is the deep Bible study?" they lie to save their image.
And what better way to lie than by shaming God's people? You know, the very people you know won't go to your church anyway because you don't teach the Bible. There was no chance of gaining them, so there's no risk in attacking them, so let's add insult to injury!
The ad hominem attack on the Christians asking these questions is how churches evade giving honest answers. And on top of that, they criticize Christians that expose abuse within the church, calling them consumerists as well, since they treat the church like a product by leaving a review. On the contrary, and ironically, negative reviews for churches online are almost always criticizing the church for its consumerism and its abuse of people.
So, my dear church checkers, if you ever happen to hear a pastor or other church leader criticizing a believer for being a "consumerist" Christian for something as insane as wanting substantive Bible study or, like...to be cared about by the very people that claim to speak for God and have His agape love in their hearts...you know why.
But in case you don't already know, churches are responsible for feeding the flock the Word of God, and they're responsible for taking care of, loving, and serving the Body of Christ, not abusing it and/or neglecting it. Duh.
But anyway, let's move on.
The "Consumerist" Christian That Wants Coffee, Cliques, and Other Consumer Goods
As I briefly mentioned before, churches that often scold Christians for wanting the meat of the Word (because a sheep's gotta eat, man!) and preferring not to be stabbed with the shepherd's staff (because a sheep's gotta...live, man!) by calling them Consumerist Christians, are actually encouraging real consumerism through their...
Wait for it...
These churches shaming people for wanting biblical services and treatment from their church are almost always selling coffee, books, food, merchandise, "Bible" courses, financial courses, and more. And all in a huge, gorgeous building.
So who are the real consumerists, people? The Christians wanting the meat of the Word and who have the skills of discernment to notice when they're being mistreated, or the people looking for an indoor playground, a coffee shop, a bookstore, a thrift store, and crafting club, a football league, and everything in between?
It's the height of hypocrisy. Calling the critique against consumerist churches consumerist is the ultimate in projection and deflection. And if that wasn't bad enough, there's more to these Pharisees than meets the eye.
Not only do these consumerist churches shame those who don't like their consumerism by calling them consumerists for entirely non-consumerist reasons (the Bible and decency), but then they call them lazy and selfish on top of that, for not wanting to be slaves to the church. Because you see, you exist to serve your local church, not the other way around. At least that's the way they see it. Sort of.
Apparently, selling people t-shirts, books, coffee, and millions of dollars worth of facilities is okay. Not consumerist. Good even, according to the consumerist church. It makes the church money, after all. But providing free things like Bible teaching, liberty, and kindness isn't beneficial to the church. That's catering to "consumerist Christians".
Listen, guys. This is the point. Churches that demand your service, money, and devotion to them while at the same time refusing to provide you with the feeding of the Word and your liberty in Christ while attacking anyone that would request these things are the real consumerists. They want to consume you and everything you have, and they expect you to only consume what they give you and sell to you for a price.
So is being a consumerist Christian a bad thing, or a good thing? It all depends on which definition you use. The real one, or the made up one that churches use to shame anyone that expects them to do their job?
Woe to you, Pharisees. Hypocrites.
And this is why we check churches.