Is Your Church Full of Customers or Owners?

We launched an internal campaign that was driven by a compelling question: “How do we shape the value of active service into our people?”

And so over the course I preached messages about serving, we talked about it in small groups and we did a training campaign on it. Finally, we asked the 25 to put positive, gracious peer pressure on the 100.

We had a print campaign, testimonies and videos. We went to each other’s houses and encouraged everyone to get involved.

The result was we wanted to change the atmosphere of expectation that people are responsible for the ministry of the church.

Part of the challenge was not just saying, “Hey, Jerry, you really need to do this.” We needed the tools and clear next steps.

So we said: “Jerry, we want you to do this, but we want to train you for this. We have a course we want you to go through, a series of three courses. Would you go through this one with us?” At first it was slow going, but over time people began to change.

How did it go?

Well, not everybody got on board. One person in our church came to me and said: “Ed, my wife and I don’t think we should have to go through these classes. We’ve been Christians our whole lives, and why do we have to do that?” I said, “I totally get that, but this is the way we do it here at our church.”

And I confessed: “Listen, I totally get that there’s no biblical command to go through these three courses, but our leadership and our church decided that this is the best way that God would have us to do things. So if this is your church, then this is what we think you should do.”

So, they promptly left the church—and soon, another left.

So, I’d encourage you to consider five truths about the tendency to being a customer of the church.

First, people naturally want to be objects of the ministry, not partners in it.

That’s why the Bible says, “Consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24, KJV).

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Ed Stetzer
Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books.

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