Roger 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.