“I’m church shopping.”

I have gotten this response a time or two whenever I talk to guests after the worship service. It’s a response that is unique in American churches, primarily influenced by our consumer mindset. I understand the rationale behind the phrase, but the application is regrettable.

In “Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians”, the authors offer this critique of the American church: “A consumer church does not require enough from its members. People look for a place to go to meet their needs, rather than a base to be sent to serve their community. We consider what we got out of the church service, and we go home feeling well-fed or not. Thus, church turns into a mall for consuming religious goods and services, rather than an equipping station to send us out into our world.”

I wish I could argue with that assessment.

Our church has a pedigree for missions. We have given generously of our financial support, and we put feet to our faith in making a difference for Christ in our community. Yes, there is always more to do, but we have endeavored to be engaged in our world. We will continue to do this.

However, we need to reminded that the church is not a mall where we consume religious goods and services. My hope and prayer that we can maintain our “sentness” by seeking ways to exercise our faith. Each one of us has the privilege to share his or her faith and invite persons to be part of our church family.

It’s a good time to be part of UHBC. We continue to receive guests in our worship services. Some of these folks may be “church shoppers” or even “church hoppers.” I hope that our people will not be one of them, because we need to show that church life is more than showing up for an hour on Sunday morning. You have heard me say that we “gather on Sundays, and then scatter throughout the week.”

The words of William Carey still apply today: “Attempt great things for God; Expect great things from God.”