On Friday, I mentioned stumbling upon a Facebook status by someone I knew in high school. She was so excited because she had found a church that she loved. Some of the comments that followed bewildered and saddened me, and they revealed a glimpse into one reason why many expanding churches grow.
One of the comments went something like, “We love [our church]. It’s loud and the preacher is AWESOME. Just in case you’d like to know.” Another was along the lines of, “Well, if you ever need a change, you can come to my church.”
Why do church-goers try to recruit people from other churches to go to their church?
Why do churches try to recruit people from other churches to come to their church?
Having done the church-planting game for nearly ten years, I can tell you some reasons:
- It’s easier to recruit Christians to your church than invest in relationships with people who don’t go to church. Church culture in America actually encourages people to reduce their friendships with people who don’t know Jesus. With all the programs, services, and options available, a new Christian soon finds himself surrounded by… other Christians. And starting friendships with people is hard work. It takes time. It’s so much easier to recruit someone of the same mindset to what you perceive as a better version of what they already have.
- Churches know that Christians give much sooner than people who are not Christians. I’ve heard leaders in churches say things like, “Offerings are down. We need more people.” It’s easier to recruit more givers than it is to dig deeper into your own pocket. It’s also easier to get Christians to give more of their time to volunteering because they’re already “in-the-know.”
- Church culture, especially church planting culture, in the USA feeds the consumer mentality. I recently talked with a friend who is interning at a newer church in Atlanta. He stated that every school and movie theater had a church meeting in it. He said that they school their church meets in actually shares a common driveway with another new church. The church he’s at meets in the middle school. The other church meets at the elementary school. My point is that if you don’t like your church, just go to one down the street. If you don’t like that one, just go to the next one. Find the one that best suits your wants and needs. Forget loyalty to the niche of the church you were at. And all you have to do is not show up the next week. You probably won’t be missed… but God knows that this particular part of the church will miss your gifts and talents. I’ve seen that most people who find Jesus stay loyal to the church they found Him in, until they’re ingrained with the meet-my-needs church mindset.
Are there churches doing a good job of fending off spiritual consumerism? Yes. Are there times you may need to consider leaving one part of the body of Christ and join another? Yes. But should we cannibalize each other in competition? Absolutely not. Yet, that’s what we’re doing.
Tomorrow, I’ll share some thoughts on how this trend can be reversed. Until then… your thoughts?