I was talking with a friend over coffee the other night. The conversations started with nothing in particular really: movies, music, pop culture, etc. You know, regular small talk for two church programming guys having coffee. Somehow we started talking about volunteers and service and creating a church culture that is aware of the world around them and what it takes really to pull off being the church today.

I’m the creative director of a children’s ministry in a “mega-church.” He is one of my programming volunteers (and the pastor’s son). We began talking about the consumer culture that the mega-church seems to have created or at the very least is experiencing. You know the story, people leave other (usually smaller/older) churches for what we have to “offer”: stellar family ministries, solid/engaging/culturally sensitive communicators, and caring small groups that are growing, not to mention perks like decent (note I didn’t say great) coffee and cookies and venues to find mid-sized community among the thousands, etc.

As we were sitting in a Starbucks it occurred to us that we chose this coffee chain over another because we enjoyed what this venue had to offer: comfy seating, good coffee, welcoming environment, etc. Why does it seems at times that people choose our church over their last brand of church much like they switch from Folders to Starbucks for what the later has to offer?

I consume Starbucks coffee. I don’t grind the beans or brew the coffee. I consume. But I do pay too much for it and add to their economy. Starbucks would never let all of us have free coffee everyday; if they did they would no longer be a company. Sure they gave away Pike’s Market… FOR A LIMITED TIME. Eventually, the anniversary celebration will be over, and you’ll have to fork over your $2.00 for a venti. They can’t sustain themselves without you and me adding to their economy.

Now I KNOW there are holes in this idea. But stay with me…

This is the same for our churches. If people who attend our church, don’t eventually step up and take ownership of the ministry both with their time and money, our church will not be able to survive and offer the “services” that drew these people into our economy in the first place.

It’s like we’ve lost the essence of what it requires of us to be the church. I’m not the first to say this, but the other night this really hit me again. We consume from our culture; of course we will consume from our place of worship.

Read through Acts and you see the church being church, praying and giving, praying and serving as the Spirit led them. They were (for the most part) working together to figure out this thing that Jesus commissioned them to start. Where along the way, did people stop buying into the program, stop working with leadership to help accomplish the mission? When did followers of Jesus start missing what he was telling them to do? When did they become active consumers of his church rather than fellow builders of his church? And why do these same people just not get it? EVER.

Andrew and I were part angry, part sad. I think we were mostly spurred to actually do something about this. (By the way, I’m also very thankful that this guy is part of my life and part of my team. I want more people like him.)

Church paid leaders, I need your help: How are you casting vision to your church mobilizing them to live out being the church and have a greater investment in your ministry?

Church volunteer leaders: What made you decide to begin getting involved in your local church? What spurred you to make more of an investment to the ministry?

Even if you don’t feel like you don’t fit into either of those categories. I’d love to hear from you too. This has been something on my mind for awhile. After sessions I heard at Orange and conversations that I’ve been having since, these questions were once again brought to the forefront.

We need to be the church.

There is so much that is broken…

So much that needs redemption…

Thankfully, this conversation gave me hope.

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