(This week’s blog postings are adapted from the theme address, “Preaching Under Pressure,” presented at the EK Bailey International Conference on Expository Preaching in July.)
Declining numbers are only one factor in the church’s struggle. The church is also struggling because the people are demanding. We live in a consumer-driven culture, where we want what we want when we want it. And when your folks walk into your church on Sunday, most of them don’t turn off that consumer mentality. To many people in the pews, choosing a church is like choosing a supermarket – it’s a matter of convenience, location and selection.
In a 2007 study by Ellison Research, they discovered that the median length of attendance in Protestant churches was about six years, and that one-third of the people attending any particular church are not definite in their plans to keep attending that church. In other words, if something better comes along – a more interesting preacher, better music, a great youth program – then they could easily walk out the door of your church and never look back.
In a survey of pastors, here are some of the comments they shared:
- Going to church is the people’s last priority, if nothing better comes along.
- A consumer mentality fills our church; everything revolves around their kids.
- People want a more accommodating God.
- Some people’s attitudes are, ‘What have you done for me lately?’
Given the consumer mentality that pervades the pews, churches increasingly seek to be relevant, contemporary, and offer a great cup of coffee! People show up on our doorsteps who have been bombarded with advertising telling them that they deserve more, higher, better, and when they come to our churches they arrive with a raging sense of entitlement.