Fighting Consumerism

I finally decided to try to put together a few thoughts regarding “how to de-consumerize your church.”

Regardless of whether you are a new church plant or an existing church trying to reform and reposition your congregation to thrive during tough ministry and economic times, consider a few systemic tweaks that can release your congregation from needless waste of both time and money.

Here are a few thoughts:

1. Consumerism only exists where it’s allowed to.

So to change people’s orientation from going to church to consume a presentation or program TO becoming a part of people who give their lives for the gospel, begins with REMOVING things they don’t need.  It’s actually a theological impossibility to “Go to Church” so begin changing the paradigm with language and stop referring to your Sunday gathering as “Church.”  Start the air war by only using the word “church” for the people, or activities that take place during the week. Change your weekend lingo to reflect what you actually do on Sunday.  Maybe call it “Teaching time/The gathering/etc.”

2. After beginning to change lingo, begin the non-consumer paradigm by changing your own role from “doer” of ministry to “equipper” of the saints to do ministry.

The only reason anyone should get paid for ministry is if they equip others to do the actual work.  So if you’re role right now is “teaching” on Sunday, start pulling together your best potential teachers either of small groups,  & missional communities and start a monthly, “teaching training.”  If your role is as shepherd or pastor, start a monthly shepherding training.  There’s always more bang for the buck when you spend your time developing leaders instead of developing messages or programs.

3. As you move your own job into the role of equipper, deliberately spend 50% less time on your own sermon as a starting point.

That should immediately give you an extra 10 hours a week to work with leaders.

4. Work to move from nebulous ministry time to becoming a coach.

View every appointment as a means to an end. The end is that they will do the work of ministry.  Have a plan of basic coaching questions for each meeting.  (What is on your heart to do? What is hindering you from doing this work of ministry? How can I help you overcome these obstacles? What is the one thing you can do this week to move forward?  As you view your role as a coach/consultant/ and connector of people, you’ll immediately begin decentralizing ministry to people who are desperate to find their place in God’s kingdom calling.

5. Move from maintaining present ministries to modeling new forms of missional leadership.

There’s no easy way to say it, Missional leaders must lead by example. You don’t have to be the best at cultural engagement, evangelistic relationship, service to the poor, etc., but you must be in the fight so that your life can inspire others.  Just like your people have to work a full-time job and then learn to give an evening a week or a few hours on the weekend to a missional community, you must do the same. If you have to, begin redrafting your job description to free up space.

6. Consider part-time salaries instead of full time.

Most of the jobs we traditionally pay full-time salaries for can easily be done in half the time.  So only pay for “equippers.”  This includes YOU!

7. Consider “outsourcing” basic functions like “set up/tear down/nursery/financial services.”

We often spend more than we need to on services that don’t directly relate to ministry.

8. If you’re going to pay $$ to staff, only pay for what you really need and staff to your greatest need.

Most churches can actually find people who have a passion and gifting to teach or lead worship or work with kids without any financial remuneration at all.  If you don’t pay for these roles, it may open up financial space for people and ministry ventures outside the church.  Many missional churches now staff “community developers” “business for mission” ventures, and other outside the box roles.  Ask yourself, what would be good news to my community and if we were to be good news, what types of people and roles do we really need? Have the courage to put money into speculative ventures that bless the culture around you instead of just propping up the same ol’ roles that haven’t been producing fruit for years.