Are You Running A Consumer Driven Ministry?

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During this time of year I pray for anyone who works retail.  In high school I worked in a CD store and during the holidays people turned from law abiding citizens into toddlers throwing fits.  People get ugly when there is something they want.  But, I can’t solely blame the individual because the culture has made consumerism into celebration.  How many of us observe Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now Green Monday?  It’s hard not to get sucked into the hype and madness (whether you enjoy it or not).

Youth ministries can be just as guilty when it comes to creating consumers.  Churches are filled with teens who want the bigger lock-in, the larger event and the cool, hip young adult leading their small group.  Not, that there is anything wrong with those things (except lock-ins), it’s just that if we aren’t careful we’ll find ourselves producing something other than a disciple of Christ.  
As youth ministers we have a responsibility to help this next generation change the focus of their lives from Consumeristic to Contributing.  Whether or not we can truly change the culture is another debate; however, there are many of us who have built our youth ministries as consumer driven venues.  How do you know if yours fits that mold?  Well, consumer driven ministries:

  • Never Grow: In fact they die slowly.  At first you feel proud because it feels as if you have a tight nit of students.  However, you never grow because you’ve done nothing to reach out to the community.  When you focus on pleasing insiders you lose out on outsiders.
  • Struggle With Entitlement: Entitlement comes from over spoiling people and giving them whatever they want.  All you are doing is building an expectation that they can get whatever they want, whenever they want.  (More on entitlement, click here)
  • Burnout Ministers: There is only so much someone can and will do before they say, “Enough!“.  If it’s about pleasing your target audience you’ll find yourself doing strange things to keep them coming.  As you keep fulfilling the demands, you’ll find the consumer become more demanding.
Consumerism in your ministry can grow ugly and become intimidating.  In order to go from consumeristic to contributing you need to be willing to CHANGE as well as:
  • Take The Heat: Change is inevitable and it is hard.  Figuring out what to change is pretty easy, figuring out how to change is where it gets hard, and challenging others to change with you can seem impossible.  To take the heat you need to lean in and not retreat.  (How to take on criticism, click here)
  • Be Patient: Changing a paradigm rarely occurs overnight, or even in a year.  There are going to be times when you witness progress because you start to see some fruit; yet, it doesn’t mean you’ve reached your vision.  
  • Be Persistent:  In order for people to become contributors you need to consistently challenge them and communicate your vision.  Even when it feels like no one is watching or listening, lean in and move forward. (Ministry breakthrough and how it happens, click here)
  • Be Loving: We will get mad and frustrated with others; however, to change takes so much work.  For some it might be a change of perspective; however, for others it’s a change of heart.  We can’t change others on our own accord, we need to pour God’s love into their lives so that when they decide to change the fear isn’t paralyzing.
If you are feeling drained because it feels like everyone around you is not happy, you might have a consumer issue.  If all people want is the next BIG event or a NEW activity, you might have a consumer issue.  It’s not an easy task; however, it possible, you just need to change.
What’s the biggest demand you’ve heard from a church consumer?