Can You Spot a Church-Dater?

From Josh Harris’s book, Stop Dating the Church: Fall in Love with the People of God:

“Can you spot what I’m calling a church-dater? Here’s a quick profile. Do you see one or more of these characteristics in yourself?

First, our attitude toward church tends to be me-centered. We go for what we can get—social interaction, programs, or activities. The driving questions is, “What can church do for me?”

A second sign of a church-dater is being independent. We go to church because that’s what Christians are supposed to do—but we’re careful to avoid getting involved too much, especially with people. We don’t pay much attention to God’s larger purpose for us as a vital part in a specific church family. So we go through the motions without really investing ourselves.

Most essentially, a church-dater tends to be critical. We are short on allegiance and quick to find fault in our church. We treat church with a consumer mentality—looking for the best product for the price of our Sunday morning. As a result, we’re fickle and not invested for the long-term, like a lover with a wandering eye, always on the hunt for something better.”

(HT for video: K. Rabe)

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7 thoughts on “Can You Spot a Church-Dater?”

  1. Bryan:

    Warning: Ramble mode engaged. I haven’t stirred the pot in a while anyway.

    It’s easy to criticize churchgoers, but does Harris ever examine the church’s role in the consumer mentality? After all, somebody has to facilitate consumerism in order for it to thrive (the makers of the video obviously understood that). When does an attempt to meet people where they are at cross the line into pandering to our culture?

    Am I being too critical when I see churches advertising their big-name worship leader, or big-name speaker, or incredible facilities, or …. and think “Are they really suggesting that I should come because of a particular individual’s talent?” Everyone likes to see highly talented individuals exercising their gifts, but it seems like for some churches that’s become all they offer: lots of talent. And what do you do when that person inevitably moves on?

    Whatever happened to the gospel being sufficient?

    My parents told me [warning: unverified] about a Catholic priest up north near our family cabin who was administering communion to Catholics and “the rest of us” alike because of the lack of other churches. (I’m slightly dubious because my experience with Catholics suggests that the priest would be quickly disciplined for such a thing … but then, our family cabin is truly remote, and maybe that’s why he’s up there to begin with….)

    Something about his willingness to minister to anyone, without special effects, lighting, high-powered music performances … something about that speaks to me. It’s simple. It’s true. It’s the gospel.

    Back on topic… why do people feel they need so much more than the gospel and community? What really *drives* consumerism?

  2. Brett,

    I think you bring up a good point that the church itself drives some of the consumerism mentality, at least lately. There has been a proliferation of mega churches and “rock star status” given to some pastors/leaders, and in some ways this has caused the church to suffer (no commitment, lack of community, watered down message, etc.).

    The church-dating problem was there before, though. I grew up in a lot of smaller towns, and not very many people have ever heard of the pastors that served the churches we attended. But there were plenty of people/families who were in and out, settling here for a while, then on to the next church. Kind of like Goldilocks, but they can never find the church that is just right for them.

    I appreciate your comment “And what do you do when that person inevitably moves on?” So many people get caught up in following a man, rather than really committing to their church. I don’t have stats to prove it, but I would imagine nearly every church experiences a decline in attendance/membership when a pastor moves on.

  3. The fact that church-daters exist isn’t anything new. In the town where I was born, people would go to a particular church because the mayor wnet there or some other superficial reason.

    The church never questioned these people, challenged them or reached out to them. The church-daters were, after all, contributing to the head count and placing money in the offering.

    My question is “What does the church need to do differently? How can we dsiciple these people so that they realize that simply attenting a church on Sunday isn’t what it is all about?”

    I think some of those questions need to apply even to regular church attenders. All churches have people who show up every Sunday but have no involvement in the life of the church. They have the independant spirit and willing offer criticism, as we all do on occasion.

    I suppose thee question overall is how to get people to realize it isn’t about “going” to church but “being” the church.

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