The Entitled Church Attender

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             March 19, 2017


There is a lot of talk and conversation these days about entitlement…from government programs to children of helicopter parents to job wages and benefits to kids sports. Entitlement could be a defining term for our culture. We hate it and yet we expect it!

Entitlement has entered through the front doors of the church as well! This past week I was listening to the morning host of a Christian music station as he launched into a discussion about finding a new church. One of his co-hosts had invited him to visit her church. The discussion flowed around what he might tell her afterwards if he didn’t enjoy the experience?

There was much laughter and humorous remarks related to the subject. How the host approached the subject left me a bit chilled. His opening was something like this: “Recently my family and I have been looking for a new church and been trying out some different places…”

His tone gave me the impression that changing churches was kind of like deciding on what restaurant we’re going to have lunch at today? How will the service be? Will we feel comfortable? Will we have our needs met? Does the time suit us? Will we like the music? How will we be made to feel special? Will it be easy to get into and out of?

He seemed to indicate that changing churches is no big deal, as difficult as deciding whether or not to get cheese on that burger I’m ordering!

But, of course, it goes with our culture. All those questions place “me” as the focus! After all these years we’re firmly traveling through a period of time where people don’t understand the purpose and mission of the church. The church simply reflects our culture, as opposed to being counter-cultural.

Perhaps the radio host had a good reason for leaving his old church. Maybe there was some doctrinal issue. Perhaps his church had lost its understanding of being the hands and feet of Jesus. Maybe the way it treated women and minorities was out of line with the gospel. Maybe the worship service had become an hour of entertainment.

The way he began the topic, however, made his previous place of fellowship sound like an old sock with a hole in the heel…tossed to the side!

Counter-cultural would have the host say something like this: “My family and I recently began a search for a new church to journey with. It wasn’t that the congregation we had been journeying with was bad or anything, but they didn’t expect anything of us. They didn’t expect us to be willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of the gospel, and didn’t expect us to understand and incorporate the idea of servanthood into our lives. So we’re in search of a fellowship that will challenge us to live out of faith in word and deed.”

Wouldn’t that be a twist in our thinking? It would go completely against our culture’s question of “what can I get out of it without putting anything into it?” Of course, we read that idea into some of our hymns and praise songs. “Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed me white as snow.”

We sing the song, say “Thanks Jesus!”, and then stroll out to the church parking lot saying “Where shall we go for lunch?”

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2 Comments on “The Entitled Church Attender”

  1. Clara Morgan Says:

    Good morning, Bill. TMI perhaps, but here is another perspective. We can only guess what might be going on in their lives. There are times in our lives when the church just isn’t helpful and worship needs to be a more privately pursued interaction that doesn’t happen on a schedule or with people who aren’t what you most need.

    I’m on hiatus from church (mostly) and shopping around since George died. Too many flaws in our congregation and leadership became more than I could stand. I didn’t have the emotional energy to be my sunny, servant self in the midst of a group of people that mostly seemed to want me to return to entertain them and work for them. When I tried to explain to our pastor, I was told I needed to go “somewhere” for counseling because I was angry that George died. (But still be our clerk, run our choir, and do everything else you do while you job hunt, learn to live alone, comfort your kids, and figure out a budget.)

    Sad, anxious, lonely- yes. But definitely not angry at his death. His death was a blessing. Angry because my church majorly let me down and disappointed me- definitely. Throw in some church money issues and a couple of overly pursuing fellows and you see that it wasn’t healthy for me to be there. God and I are still “good” together.

    I need to find a place that doesn’t know I am a minister’s widow, was once very engaged in church life, and where the doctrinal and social justice commitments match. For now, I’ll keep shopping.

    I’m grateful that to dust we return and look forward to whatever God provides beyond this life. On Sun, Mar 19, 2017 at 10:40 AM Words from WW Blog wrote:

    > wordsfromww posted: “WORDS FROM W.W. > March 19, 2017 There > is a lot of talk and conversation these days about entitlement…from > government programs to children of helicopter parents to ” >

    • wordsfromww Says:

      Thanks Clara! Another excellent insight (for a future blog!)…how the church sometimes treats its servants like a team of mules! A church that yields to the leading of the Spirit has the potential to find a kind of rhythm that is music to the soul! I experienced that a few years ago as a retreat participant with a few of my Baptist pastor friends at a Benedictine Sisters retreat center. The rhythm of the nuns was wondrous to behold as they cared for each other and worked alongside each other!

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