Consumer or Worship

  • Jeff Crotts
woman shopping

Church culture has shifted and if shifting.  A year ago, it was a lot easier to come to church out of a religious motive.  Mainstream attenders whooshing in and out of church services to be seen and acknowledged by friend groups to be reassured they are good people and under God’s blessing.  This kind of approach will never fly with God because God always tests our motives when we worship.  A greedy and self-seeking motive will be spewed out of God’s mouth as lukewarm, whereas a motivation to give will be received.  Coming to God as a consumer- like someone who is trying to get a good deal at Best Buy- is a complete 180 from what God seeks and blesses.  True worshippers will first and foremost approach God with a single motivation, to give.  This is attested from the Old Testament sacrificial system where worshippers approached God with a sacrifice.  This, at baseline, is the creature/Creator distinction, where God is God, and we are not!  We bring our offerings of worship to him and he receives them.  The word “worship” itself is an Old English derivation of the word “worth” connected with the suffix “ship.”  Words ending in “ship” take on the state of being with whatever comes before it.  So, putting “worth” with “ship” makes its object always in the state of being worthy, which can only be God.

God is the only Being who is always and forever worthy because God’s value is based on who He is as Creator.  When you become a Christian, you begin to understand this reality, and this shapes the way you approach God both in private and in public.  Bring this full circle, when people gather for church with a religious or consumer’s mindset this is in direct opposition to what God requires.  What has my attention right now is how the Corona virus has shaped church culture.  The idea of doing a massive building project or fundraising campaign does not really square with the mission.  An attraction based gathering where your kids are happily gathering is not really in vogue.  Nope.  Gathering for church has taken a step purer in terms of our driving motivations.  For some, it is safer to stay shut in from larger gathering and this is understandable.  For others, it has become a real temptation to sleep in and view church on a screen at their leisure.  I recognize I am walking a fine line with what I am typing but I believe it is time to soul-search and ask yourself if you are possibly being tempted into a consumer take it or leave it mindset when it comes to gathering at church. 

The fellowship has been powerful during this season in our world’s history.  People gather with a sense of purpose, not to take but to give.  Coming as living sacrifices (cf. Rom. 12:1-2).  You may ask whether I am saying that giving is all there is?  Do we not receive blessing from God and is it wrong to seek this sort of thing?  In brief, it is important to understand that there is no true contradiction with coming to God as an offering and coming to God to receive a blessing.  At the same time, the chasm between approaching God as a religious consumer or true worshipper is as wide as the difference between heaven and hell.  When you come to God with sacrifices of praise, your heart opens to receive bucket loads of blessings that God reigns down from heaven.  When you come to God and his people as some kind of critic, your heart closes shut and all of God’s blessings are held shut up in heaven. 

In Matthew 6 Jesus introduces the dramatic difference between true worship and religious worship.  Authentic verses hypocritical. 

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)    


I have heard an old illustration of an eastern holy man who would cover himself with ashes as a symbol of humility.  He would sit prominently on the city street corner where tourist would come and ask permission to take his picture, so the mystic would rearrange his ashes to give the best image of destitution.  Before we laugh too loudly or criticize this guy, we need to ask whether or not we might also stand guilty as charged with the way we have approached God or gathered for church.  It can be very easy to fall into this subtle trap of playacting our faith.  Going through the motions so people will assume we are just fine in our relationship with God.  Instead of taking this path, I encourage you to go to God with all your desperate needs and offer yourself as the living sacrifice, he has made you to be.  In doing so, you give glory to God, your Creator and you will receive blessings untold.