Consumerism comes from the verb consume, which is rooted in the Latin word consumere, meaning to use up or to waste. The noun consumerism also refers to a movement that promotes the interests of consumers — that is, people who purchase goods, use them, and then buy more. As an economic theory, advocates of consumerism claim that an increasing consumption of goods is economically beneficial.

Economists and scholars can argue that question. What can’t be argued is that a spirit of consumerism has overtaken our American culture with a “what’s in it for me” attitude. Go to the next page to explore how this has also affected our churches and ministries.

People come into our churches looking for what they can get out of the services and ministries of the church. American consumers have been conditioned to expect to be “satisfied” with the product, and they evaluate everything according to personal satisfaction.

Lord, help us.  (Pause and add your own confession now.)

Our church leaders and volunteers know our people have these consumer expectations. So here’s what happens. We “tune in” to the wishes and desires of the people to make our decisions about what to do and how to do it, rather than tuning in to the Lord of the Church, Who is supposed to be the head of the church.

Lord, help us. (Confess where you see this happening in your church.)

It is not wrong to care about what people think and feel they need. But that should not control our decisions. In fact, sometimes in order to follow the Lord of the church we have to do or say certain things in certain ways that will not be pleasing to the majority of people.

Lord, help us.  (Ask the Lord to show you where you or the church need to take a counter-cultural or unpopular stand.)

Our fears of losing people, or income, or relevance turns the church into a political rather spiritual entity where decisions are based on anecdotes, polling, surveying, or power blocs. We wind up worrying more about how people will react rather than asking what is right.

Lord, help us.  (Confess any areas where you or your church have become “people-pleasers.”)