We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Consumer Christianity

Many evangelical churches have committed themselves wholeheartedly to a marketing approach aimed primarily at attracting the lost, who are viewed as potential customers.  As unbelievers attend the church and mix with new and long-standing members, the consumer concept unavoidably spreads to the entire congregation.  This inevitably affects the preaching, music, Sunday School programs, etc., which in turn produces a biblical shallowness throughout the congregation. …

Is consumerism supported by the Scriptures?  Did God shape His Gospel to gratify the worldly desires of humanity?  Are there some things in the Bible that should be strategically avoided in order not to put off “potential” believers?  Does God’s Word reflect a concern that people might take their “business” elsewhere if their felt needs aren’t being met?  Does the Bible tell us to make the truth more acceptable by feeding it to the lost in diluted or entertaining forms?  And is it really the gospel that saves if it’s altered to cater to non-Christians?  If any believer even remotely thinks so, I fear that the thinking of the world has grievously influenced his understanding of the Bible.

T.A. McMahon, “Consumer Christianity,” The Berean Call, February 2005.


Doug Evans said...

The bible tells us to avoid this situation, to not water down our worship to attract new customers:

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

I've been told in the past that this applies to personal relationships but if you let the bible speak for itself this is a directive against the seeker sensitive churches that are diluting the Gospel to set attendance records.

Anonymous said...


That is unfortunately the attitude in many area churches near me. So many of them have gone the consumerism route, that it is hard to find any solid churches around. The stories I could tell... thinking about them makes me very angry. Entertainment abounds, worship is irreverent, Biblical shallowness/illiteracy dominates, and of course the fruit of this is manifest in the behavior of the congregation, which is full of goats and sheep that aren't growing up.

The most tragic part is it seems the pastors that have gone this marketing route don't even realize (or care?) what they are doing. Like David taking his census, they love their "numbers" in the pews.

My husband and I have gently brought our Biblical concerns with this marketing/felt needs/"attract the lost with entertainment" approach to pastors, who either ignore us, gently "tut tut" us, or (yes, this really did happen) suggest we leave the church. Which we did, after having an unfruitful discussion with another elder there, and hearing the pastor subsequently call discerning believers "pharisees" off the pulpit. That was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

And to think TA McMahon was saying this in 2005, nearly 10 years ago. It's only become far worse.


Joe said...

"Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together..." was directed at believers. The church is the Body of Christ. Non Christians are not a part of the Body of Christ. While they should not be excluded from hearing the gospel preached, it is Christ who should attract them, not the "coolness" of church services. If He, Himself, does not attract them, they cannot be saved.