Shopping for a church which accepts gifts

Roger MugsRoger Mugs writes, in a post Church Shopping:

I hear a complaint frequently about church goers. Mostly it comes from the leadership of churches when they have people come in and out of their congregation while “church shopping.” I’m not sure who coined this term, but the church goer sees it as a necessary thing to find a church which suits them, and the pastors see it as a bad/sinful thing motivated from unbiblical American consumerism. Afterall, the church isn’t about what the individual can get from the church, they’ll say, but rather what the individual can give to the church.

Roger continues with his own interesting observations on this phenomenon. But I would like to offer a different one. Yes, I’m sure that some people go church shopping looking for “what the individual can get from the church”, and I agree with Roger’s criticism of this. But others, like myself sometimes in the past, go church shopping for “what the individual can give to the church”. After all, if one wants to give something, is it not right to shop around to find a worthy recipient of one’s gift, someone who can be trusted to put it to good use?

Even more to the point is that one needs to find a recipient who will actually accept one’s gift. If a church wants to keep the people who visit it on their church shopping trips, it needs to work on receiving what they have to give. I don’t mean their material offerings – most churches are quick to accept these from visitors. I mean the natural abilities and spiritual gifts, and the time and energy, which these people may have to offer to the fellowship. Too many churches let “lay” people simply sit in their pews and don’t show any interest in what they can give to the body. The same pastors who complain that “the church isn’t about what the individual can get from the church” often don’t give individuals the opportunity to do anything else. No wonder people tend to look around until they find a place where they and their gifts are appreciated.

0 thoughts on “Shopping for a church which accepts gifts

  1. Peter, I completely agree with you – it’s two sides of the coin.

    As an extreme example, a lady who believes that she possibly has a call to teaching, leadership and ordination is not going to join a conservative evangelical church that will tell her she is completely mistaken. She will join a church that will allow her to explore and test her calling. Is that giving or getting? I think it’s both.

    Whilst I reject the consumer approach to church, it is a fact that we are all different and there are different styles of church. We shouldn’t be afraid to chose the one that will best enable us to worship God and grow as Christians, which I’d suggest is the one that we can both give to and receive from. In fact, the two probably go hand in hand.

  2. Peter. Thanks for the response, and I fully agree. I think one of the things a church member NEEDS to get out of a church is the ability to be a part of it. I’m shocked at how many believers out there are capable and interested in serving but no one is enabling them to do so.

    In a discussion with a friend about “big church” I said, “But big church can’t be all bad, people like you and me and grew up and matured in them.”

    His response was, “That was because we fought tooth and nail to be plugged in, to get involved, and grow.”

    It’s sad that it so often takes fighting to get involved at a church, otherwise they just count you as a number attending rather than a member interested in being involved.

  3. Sidefall, I agree. But the issue isn’t always with matters of principle like women in leadership. More often it is that every task in the church is done by the pastor and other paid staff members. Or sometimes people are expected to sit in the pew for years before they are allowed to do anything as volunteers. Now I do realise that churches need to get to know people before giving them leadership responsibility. But that shouldn’t stop volunteers as helpers.

  4. Roger, you are welcome. I have been in larger churches where I have had to fight for recognition, and prefer smaller ones where instead they are fighting over which job they can get me to do!

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