Church-Shopping: Does Year-End Shopping Include Changing Churches?

Read: Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Every year, I spend the most money during November and December. That’s because of Christmas, the school holidays, and family and friends visiting. Nowadays, we have the 11.11 online shopping day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday to further burden our wallets!

Our love for shopping and the consumerist mindset is rampant in our modern lives today. But could this have infiltrated our attitude towards the church too?

The Problem with Church-Shopping

During the pandemic, it became easy for many Christians to do some “shopping” around for churches to worship in. People could tune into different services online – from any part of the world – and see for themselves which church’s music style, sermon content or pastor suited them the most.

As the year is coming to an end, some of us may be considering changing churches. Some of us haven’t even gone back to church, and are still undecided about what to do or where to go. But at the heart of church-shopping is the view that the church is a product, and we are its customers.

While some church-shopping is normal if we’ve moved to a new town and are looking for a new body of believers, or if we’ve had to change churches because of serious doctrinal or moral issues, the problem begins when we approach church as a whole with a materialistic mindset, and it becomes all about our wants and needs.

At the heart of church-shopping is the view that the church is a product, and we are its customers

Shopping is focused on the desires of the shopper, and as “customer is king”, we expect things to be done and delivered our way. Church then becomes a commodity, and if it is no longer giving us the best value for our time, energy, and money, we simply move on.

This takes the focus away from God, when true Christianity should be characterised by a life of discipleship and following Jesus as our Lord. Church shoppers will eventually turn into church hoppers; remaining invisible, avoiding responsibility, never settling down, and never maturing in faith.

>>READ: 3 Reasons Why We Should Stop Church-Shopping

>>READ: Sparkle or Substance? Our Relationship with God is not a Transaction

>>WATCH: We Are Designed to Live in Community No Matter the Season

Overcome the Christian consumer attitude

If you’re struggling with a Christian consumer attitude, these 3 truths can remind us about our relationship with the church:

  1. We are made for community. God intends the church to be a spiritual community of believers, living in service, worship and sacrifice together. God Himself exists in community as a Trinity, and we are not meant to be Christians in an isolated, private journey.
  2. Our talents and gifts are for the church. We each have a role to play in the larger body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), and we are to use our skills and gifts to serve, encourage and help other believers for the “common good” (verse 7).
  3. God matures us through the local church. The local church is the place for us to grow and strengthen our faith. We are to devote ourselves to “the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” as the early church did (Acts 2:42).

Chances are, all of us have church-shopped at some point in our lives. But perhaps we can make this our end-year resolution: to first change our view on God’s original intention for the church, and rely on His grace to stay the course and simply be the church.

No matter the season of life we’re in, we’re still the body of Christ

There may be ups and downs and hurts, but our first response is to always try and make things work until all avenues have been exhausted; such as praying, waiting on God, consulting with mature believers, and even speaking to the leadership themselves.

No matter the season of life we’re in, we’re still the body of Christ, bonded together as a faith community to grow and serve together through thick and thin. John Piper wrote: “To belong to Christ is to belong to a body of believers, defective or perfect. There aren’t any perfect ones.”

If we’re yet to find a community, let’s seek Him in prayer to find a local body we can truly serve, belong in and commit to.


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About the Author​​

Wan Phing Lim is a contributor to Our Daily Bread Ministries Malaysia. Born and raised in Penang, she studied Politics before turning to a career in writing. She loves coffee, books and films.


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