I was at a community business meeting when a friend introduced me to someone he knew.

“This is my friend, Doug. We go to church together…That’s great, which church is it?”

That was an awkward moment because we had used a cultural idea that neither of us believed in but did so for communication.  We both glanced at each other and could read each other’s thoughts.  “We don’t go to church together.  You can’t go to church; we are the church! We aren’t called to attend meetings to get something beneficial for our lives individually.  We are God’s family walking together in pursuit of His mission.”  

God’s people are called to walk together with Jesus and each other as God’s missionary family.

Jesus isn’t looking for members to casually join an organization and occasionally attend meetings. He is looking for people who will lay down their lives to follow Him on His mission together with others. He wants imitators, not admirers; followers, not consumers; fellow family members on His mission, not casual meeting attenders.

There has to be a higher cause than personal happiness and fulfillment that holds God’s people together. Those motivations will fail when working through challenges because they will not push aside self-centeredness! The good news is that when we lay our lives down for His cause, the very happiness and fulfillment we all desire actually ends up coming without our self-interest sabotaging it.

Nothing has been more debilitating to God’s design for His church than consumer Christianity.  God’s people are not called to be consumers of Christian goods and services.  They are called to be contributors as they follow Jesus together on His mission.

Jesus and His church are not add-ons to our lives to help us achieve self-fulfillment.  He adds us to His life and His church.   As we “lay our lives down for His sake” we end up living the best life we can live, in Him!  It is THE GREAT EXCHANGE.  Our sin corrupted life given to Him, and His amazing eternal life coming into us as Peter revealed.  

  • 2 Peter 1:4 God made great and marvelous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. Then we could escape our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world.

5 Important steps to avoid consumer Christianity

Obey the Biblical calling of Christianity, to follow Jesus as His disciple. 

We are not called to “only believe” or “make a decision,” but to follow Him.   Jesus called people to “follow Me/come after Me” 31 times in the Gospels.  Only 4 times does He say, “believe in Me.”  The clear call is to follow Him.  Consumer Christians see their calling as getting Jesus to follow them around staying mainly out of sight, and only revealing Himself to make their dreams come true.  This isn’t how He called His disciples to live.

Understand and walk in Jesus’ clear pathway of life. 

“If you want to find My life you have to deny yourself and lose your life for My sake.”  In 20 of the 31 calls to “follow Me/come after Me” recorded in the gospels, Jesus instructed people to lay things down for His sake.  It wasn’t that Jesus wanted to spoil their fun or ensure a miserable religious life.  It truly is the best life we can live!  Peter described it, “we become partakers of the Divine Nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lusts” (1 Peter 1:4).  The German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was martyred by the Hitler regime said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” It is not a death that leads to destruction but one that leads to life, real life, His life, both now and forever!!!

Love God and others more than you love yourself. 

The Bible says 9 times to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Lev 19:18,  Mt 19:19, 22:39, Mk 12:31, 23, Lk 10:27, Rom 13:9, Gal 5:14, Jas 2:8). Scripture also says, contrary to popular belief, that “no one ever hates himself” (Eph 5:29).  Jesus said that in the last days, people’s love would tend to grow cold because of “lawlessness” (they refuse to live under His rule Matthew 24:12).   As we love Jesus and live under His rule, we guide our emotions by the Spirit to love others. This is the fruit of the Spirit, biblical love, and the attitude of Christ (Gal 5:11, I Cor 13:1-6, Phi 2:1-6).  This is the best way we can live!  Self-centeredness will sabotage everything precious in life.  When people feel that they are “falling out of love” with someone, the real problem is that they need to fall out of love with themselves.

Understand that the Biblical design for church membership is to contribute, not just consume. 

It isn’t about consuming what a church has for us, but contributing what we have for the church. God spells out His design for church membership in His word (1 Cor 12, 14, Eph 4:16, Col 1:19-22, 1 Pet 2:1-6, Rom 12:1-8).  His plan is that every one of us contributes their unique gifts and abilities in serving His people.  The goal is to see His people become all He intended for them.  As we engage in this process, we end up growing ourselves and experiencing more of God’s life…what a great deal!

Practice at least one of the 59 “One Anothers” mentioned in Scripture every day. 

Click here to get the list as well as modern-day counterparts.

Jesus didn’t die to produce Christian Consumers, but Christians who are consumed with Him (Titus 2:13-14)

  • 2 Corinthians 5:15  and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.