Why Consumerism is Killing the Church

by Michael Sherrard

“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

 “But God said to him, ‘You fool!” This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” Luke 12:16-21 NIV

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Consumerism is fully grown. It is a fully matured monster in our society. Our little pet has become a Gremlin (follow link if you were not alive in the 80’s). If only we had followed the directions. How hard is it to keep them dry and not feed them after midnight? Wait, when does after midnight end? When can we feed them again?


Consumerism is growing rapidly in the younger generations and their view of the Church. It seems that every other blog is indicting the church for its failure in reaching younger generations. But much of this criticism is not well placed and is driven by a childish consumeristic viewpoint of the churches obligation to conform to the whimsical needs of immature believers.

Has the idea of individual responsibility completely died? It seems as though the blogosphere’s common experience with pastors and churches is that they are out of touch, uncaring, and irrelevant. To whom, though, we must ask is the church perceived this way? The self-centered nature of the accusations must be examined to receive an accurate picture of the espoused churches ineffectiveness. For if it is only the self-perceived and flighty needs of an immature, spoon fed generation that are not being met, one might need to temper their condemnation of the church.

Connecting with each other requires work. Harmony is not always easily found. But it is the individual’s responsibility to assimilate into a local gathering pushing through the cultural and generational differences. To be sure, it is also the responsibility of the church to reach out. Yet, often what the younger generations consider “reaching out” is less akin to an invitation and more in line with contortion. Quite frequently, it is stated plainly by generationally segregated churches that unless the older generation conform to modern ways, the young folks will start doing church their own way.

This is, in no understated terms, dangerous. The generations need each other. Young adults need the wisdom and resources of their elders, and the older generations need the passion and idealistic vision of those younger than them. And like all fights, there is a side to each story. With no doubt, there have been churches that would rather die in empty tradition than adjust to a changing culture and its needs. But what seems to be trendy today is for young adults to posture themselves as having it all figured out, and rather then reflect, they deflect responsibility onto another.

Unless we have church our way, we move on until we find one that gives us exactly what we want. Rather than learn from those that are different from us, we find or make a church in our own image. This is childish. This is dangerous. This consumerism has to stop. Free market consumer driven products are fine. But the body of Christ is not a commodity.  

We need to be able to connect with those that have different needs than us and are not in the exact same place in life. We ought be able to attend a Bible study with those who have children even if we do not. We need not become angry with the church for not providing a 22-23 year old young married without kids that like to kayak in the winter class.

You get my point, I hope. Consumerism in the church has become a monster. It is ripping apart the generations. It will be part of the undoing of the bride of Christ by devouring needed generational relationships. We need people older than us in our life. And if that means not having all our superficial wants filled, than so be it. Welcome adulthood and its strings.

The solution is to give. Give up your rights to have church the way you want it. Entertain the idea that you don’t have it all figured out. Consider one another as better than yourself and lay down your life for the good of others. If each side of the generational divide will do this, the body will ring in harmony and the world will come and listen to our beautiful song.


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