Home Pastors Articles for Pastors People Aren’t as Loyal to Their Church Anymore—Good for Them

People Aren’t as Loyal to Their Church Anymore—Good for Them

Brand loyalty is dead.

Good riddance.

The so-called “good old days” when a person committed to a church, then stuck with it no matter what, have come to an end. Many churches just don’t know it yet.

Maybe that’s why I keep hearing ministers harping on the same old complaints.

“My church can’t get good volunteers any more!”

“People aren’t as faithful as they used to be.”

And, my personal [ahem] favorite, “What’s wrong with this generation? You can’t count on them for anything.”

If those complaints sound familiar (as in, you’ve heard them come from your own mouth), please take this in the way I’m giving it—with all the love in my heart.

Stop whining about people’s lack of commitment to your church and give them something worth committing to!

People shouldn’t be committed to something if it isn’t worth being committed to!

Why I’m glad brand loyalty is dead.

For too many years, brand loyalty allowed mediocrity to survive and thrive. 

And not just in the church. Brand loyalty nearly killed the U.S. auto industry.

In my grandfather’s era, the man of the house (always the man) would decide he was a “Ford man” (or Chevy, etc.), and no one in the family would drive anything else. Later, as German and Japanese imports started arriving, that brand loyalty broadened to American vehicles.

Domestic auto manufacturers were aware of that loyalty. It made them arrogant. So they rejected crazy new “foreign” ideas like smaller cars, fuel efficiency and lower prices. They kept making cars the way they’d always made them—big, expensive, inefficient and ugly.

When the next generation came of age, they felt no brand loyalty and bought the smaller, cheaper, more reliable, fun-looking, non-U.S. cars.

American car manufacturers lost massive market share and nearly killed an entire industry because they relied on brand loyalty instead of doing their job better.

The institutional church today is like the U.S. auto industry of the 1970s. We’re relying too heavily on people’s loyalty to a church format. A format that is already DOA. And, like the U.S. auto industry, we refuse to see it.

Because we hold on to the false notion that people should want to do church the way we’ve always done it, we often fail to offer them a better, more valuable church experience.

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Karl is the author of four books and has been in pastoral ministry for almost 40 years. He is the teaching pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, a healthy small church in Orange County, California, where he has ministered for over 27 years with his wife, Shelley. Karl’s heart is to help pastors of small churches find the resources to lead well and to capitalize on the unique advantages that come with pastoring a small church. Karl produces resources for Helping Small Churches Thrive at KarlVaters.com, and has created S.P.A.R.K. Online (Small-Church Pastors Adapt & Recover Kit), which is updated regularly with new resources to help small churches deal with issues related to the COVID-19 crisis and aftermath.