Consumer is king. Or at least that’s the running theory. I’ve made no secret that I’m a big NASCAR fan. And my favorite track would have to be Bristol. I especially enjoy the Bristol night race, along with most NASCAR fans. I liked that race before, but I’ve loved it ever since I had the chance to actually attend.
Anyway, this past weekend’s attendance wasn’t so good at Bristol. Some feel it’s because of the change the track made a few years back. Personally, I think simple economics could be a huge part. Folks just can’t afford pricey tickets, plus travel, plus accommodations, etc. But some blame it completely on the changed track.
So much so that ownership is considering spending at least a million dollars to change it back. In a recent article Bruton Smith, the guy in charge, quoted a poll in which the majority of fans liked the old way better, and so they are strongly considering spending that cash to change it back. The exact quote: “We’ve got to be sure that we have appeased these race fans. We want to be sure that we are now making a change and giving them what they want.” Consumer is king.
Unfortunately, that attitude has bled over into other areas of life. Our local school board announced this week that the man who had coached the high school girl’s basketball team for over 20 years would not have his contract renewed. He has led them to all kinds of success, all kinds of records, but that wasn’t enough.
He has the reputation of being a tough nosed coach. For years, the kids just dealt with it, or didn’t play for him. But now, a few kids complained and threatened to quit, and their parents whined to the school board, and the school board basically said the same thing Smith did. “We want to be sure that we are now making a change and giving them what they want.”
I don’t need to go into all the local politics involved there, I’m just trying to get to a point. And here it is. This “consumer is king” “give ‘em what they want” attitude has unfortunately crept into the church as well. Somewhere down the line we started buying into the idea that taking polls and giving folks what they want was the best way to grow a church. And from a pragmatic, worldly standpoint, maybe it works.
However, study after study shows the overall maturity of the average church goer, their biblical knowledge, their genuine commitment, etc. has all declined as rapidly as our attendance numbers have grown. We’re getting ‘em in the door, but we’re not doing much with ‘em. I wonder if this is what Jesus had in mind. (see Gregg’s series at Gospel Driven Disciples for some history on this)
I may have mentioned here before the comment made in a doctoral seminar at Midwestern Seminary, when one of my classmates summarized it like this: "People come into the church not knowing what the church is, but we let them define what it ought to be." And the same thing applies to those already “inside” the church. It’s not about how you want to define the church, it’s about how God defines it.
Folks, when will we remember that the true Church of Christ is built in His power, according to His plan, for His glory? It’s not about entertaining the lost or even placating the saints. It’s about preaching the gospel, calling people to repentance, promoting holiness and worshiping a holy God in spirit and in truth.
The simple point here is this. In the church, consumer is not king, only the King is King. And it’s about time we started listening to Him. To paraphrase Smith’s quote in the proper context for the church. “We want to be sure that we are now making a change and giving Him what He wants.”
So, if you’re a pastor or leader, please keep faithfully proclaiming the truth, regardless of what anyone else says. In the end, God is the only One you have to worry about answering to. And for those expecting anything else in the church, please stop acting like whiny race fans or disgruntled school parents and submit yourselves to God’s truth for God’s glory.