is this what they mean by consumer church?

 following is a photo of the strip shopping center that sits conspicuously right behind my bank.  take a look…

i drive by it almost every day and every time i do, i am touched by a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  perhaps i am overreacting.  perhaps i am especially sensitive to the subliminal messages we (the church) are sending out.  i mean, i am a church planter–i understand the process.  you’re riding this roller-coaster of emotion, struggling with an inescapable compulsion to do what you feel like god is calling you to do.  you’re walking a fine line between faith and terror, and every time you “put a pencil to it,” you can’t seem to make the numbers work.  i know how difficult it is to find an acceptable (read: “cheap”) place to meet.  location is important, but you’re not too concerned because this is just a first stop.  you’re confident you’ll be building a fabulous facility of your own soon.  as soon as people find out about you, you’ll grow.  like crazy.

but then sometimes it doesn’t work like that.

and, as a result, we have little “start-up churches” dotted all over the landscape.  hey, i get it.  i know how it feels.  and i am certainly in no position to tell a guy he shouldn’t follow his dream.  but i wonder if we have ever once seriously considered what message we might be sending.  do we think if we rent a building and hang a sign, then the world will come in?  will people choose our church because our sign is cooler than the sign next door?

there have been many different businesses in the small strip shopping center pictured above.  i’ve seen everything from beauty parlors to doggie daycares.  now, there are three churches side-by-side.  one is proudly labeled “orthodox anglican.”  the other two are less forthcoming about their theology.   

i cannot help but wonder what people in our community think when they see three churches right next door to each other (and i’m not denigrating these three churches…there are churches just like them all over town.  there is even another one right across the street).  even people who might be thinking, “you know, i really  need to get my family into church.”  what is the overriding impression they get when they drive by this shopping center?  are they thinking, “i wonder what these people believe?” or “maybe the pastor is a world-class communicator.”  maybe they’re thinking, “what is ekklisia?” or maybe, “these people really need to learn how to spell.” 

i’d be interested to hear from my sagacious readers.  what impression do you get?

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3 thoughts on “is this what they mean by consumer church?

  1. The spelling was my first thought. 🙂 There are legitimate reasons for starting a church (as you know). But I have to wonder what in the world would possess three new churches to be started and then to be in the same strip mall and also one across the street. Ego? Power? sincerity? Yeah, the world has got to wonder. Please keep us posted on this.

  2. This is a tough situation. If they are truly following God with all their heart then I would be a fool to discount their efforts. I guess because of my upbringing and background a situation like you have posted causes me to have what I call “Reasonable Doubt”. I have decided that I should not speak badly of them but neither will I direct others to them. This of course is all based on appearances. Further study might cause a totally different reaction. Then again I live in the boonies and have no idea what a strip mall is.

  3. I am torn.

    One side says, “what in the world”.. the other side says, “God uses a variety of ways to reach people.”

    In this instance I think I am more swayed to the “what in the world” mentality. 3 small churches next door to each other makes it seem like there is something missing – unity maybe(?).

    It’s kinda like serving 3 different potatoes with a steak.. sweet, mashed, and baked. Just doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.

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