Sunday, September 12, 2010

Plagues that kill the church: (3) Customer Satisfaction

I think I'm guilty of this next plague. Being the Sanguine that I am, pleasing people comes naturally. I'm sure many of you who happen to have this trait enjoy it a lot. You find yourselves liked in different crowds. You could be with your "in" Barbie friends during the Saturday night gimmicks clubbing the night away while criticizing the fat lady in black tights or gossiping about your other friends who weren't there. Then you go to church the next day with your pious mask. You're okay with it, you see it as being flexible. You are happy because you have plenty of friends. But, the question is, do you still know who you are? Or are you a shadow that fits whatever image your friends would like you to have? Is the real YOU still standing? Or, have you already killed YOUR-once-upon-a-time-SELF?

The 'strength' of being able to alter attitudes and behaviors satisfying certain groups comes with one big disadvantage. (I testify to that.)It covers you with layers of masks that buries the truth within the depths of your soul. The reality is locked. The real you is buried and forgotten.

Churches have a tendency to please people as well. We are like businesses that aspire to win the most number of loyal customers possible. We follow the success principles of the top multinational corporations. We implement new training methods, new programs, new songs and even new bible lessons as time passes by. We create fancy looking sanctuaries with concert-like halls to make the "shop" interesting for walk-in customers.

The atmosphere of some Sunday worship services has evolved as a place for people to enjoy, to have fun, not to be convicted nor corrected. We want them to come back and so we "encourage" them by keeping a blind eye on their sins & struggles as we welcome them with a smile every week. We'd rather not tell them the painful truth. Maybe they're too sick that they need to repent or too fat that they lack spiritual discipline. No need to point out the obvious because they might just get angry and boycott our company. We know that they deserve to hear about Jesus dying on the cross not because of what we did but because of His mercy. But we rather not, because they've heard it already. It could be the same ol', boring story for them. We cannot bore them. That's the golden rule.

Sometimes it's still inevitable for people to leave the church. What we automatically do is to think of more creative ways to bring them back. Altering the program is usually the solution! We have man-made programs (i.e. games, songs) that guarantee much customer satisfaction. We even give free food when they try out our services.

Doing so, we bury the truth. We kill the main purpose and identity of the church. We use "fun activities await you" to attract new faces. It's not that I'm against these activities, in fact I myself am involved in program planning. I've organized group dynamics, icebreakers, and the like. However, I found two dangers to it. One, we may experience burn-out (in ministries) if we focus too much on activities making us become "tasky." My sister coined this word to mean (adj.): task-oriented individual involved in actions that are not essential in building the body of Christ. Second, there is great danger if we highlight fun gimmicks more than God's truth, if we preach only what the people want to hear. Hardly will there be any growth. What spurs growth in me is when someone who cares enough for me walks an extra mile to rebuke me (risking humiliation and discomfort), to tell me the truth and point me to the correct path. If someone did the same to you, be thankful. He may not be treating you as a customer who "is always right," but he longs to support you and keep you rooted in God's Word. Cherish him, that brother is priceless.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

- 2 Timothy 4:3

If churches choose to stop spoiling "customers," this may happen:

Ten little Christians standing in a line,
One disliked the pastor, then there were nine.

Nine little Christians stayed up very late,
One slept in on Sunday, then there were eight.

Eight little Christians on their way to heaven,
One took the low road, then there were seven.

Seven little Christians chirping like chicks,
One disliked the music, then there were six.

Six little Christians seemed very much alive,
But one lost his interest, then there were five.

Five little Christians pulling for Heaven’s shore,
But one stopped to rest, then there were four.

Four little Christians, each busy as a bee,
One got her feelings hurt, then there were three.

Three little Christians knew what to do,
One joined the sports crowd, then there were two.

Two little Christians, our rhyme is nearly done,
Differed with each other, then there was one.

One little Christian can’t do much ’tis true;
Brought his friend to Bible study, then there were two.

Two earnest Christians, each won one more,
That doubled their number, then there were four.

Four sincere Christians worked early and late,
Each won another, then there were eight.

Eight little Christians, if they doubled as before,
In just a few short weeks, we’d have 1,024.

In this little jingle, there’s a lesson true,
You belong to the building, or the wrecking crew.

Source: Ten Little Christians poem from

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