Why Consumer Church Members Leave Your Church

“I’m not getting fed.”

It’s one of the most common complaints of church members looking for excuses to leave a church. The gripe is that the pastor’s sermons are not providing the person adequate spiritual growth. And most of the time it’s baloney.

Sure, there are a few pastors who preach borderline heretical sermons. And there are some who provide a spiritual pep talk each week instead of a biblical sermon. But, among the 450,000 pastors in North America, most of them are Bible-believing and Bible-preaching. 

Most of the time “I’m not getting fed” is a lame excuse to say the church is not catering to my desires and preferences. It’s a clear indicator of We have seen the growing trend of church member consumerism, and it has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

 Self-centered, consumer-driven church members are leaving. Here are some reasons why:

1. Because they never get satisfied. That is the nature of consumerism. Desires are met only for a season. Then the church member wonders what you have done for them lately. And if the church members feel like he or she has gotten all they can get from the church, they will move on to another church or drop out altogether.

2. Because they have no greater purpose. We all know church members who are the pillars of the church in the best sense of the word. They are giving, serving, and sacrificial. They have a greater purpose than themselves. They seek to serve the Lord by serving others. They never ask, “What have you done for me lately?” because they are too busy doing for others. The consumer Christian has no purpose beyond his or her own preferences. And that’s really no purpose at all.

3. Because they are often divisive. Consumer Christians seek for themselves. And if they don’t get what they want, they can be critical and divisive. They may leave when they sense the support for their negativity is waning. They will complain that other church members did not support them. And they are, thankfully, correct.

4. Because they know better than everyone else. You can usually count on consumer church members to send the pastor an article or podcast link to demonstrate how other churches are doing things so much better. For the consumer church member, the grass is always greener – until they move to the greener grass of the next church. And then they see problems there.

5. Because they don’t understand the meaning of biblical church membership. Check out the characteristic of a church member in 1 Corinthians 12. It’s all about how the members of the body are functioning for the greater good of that body. And look at 1 Corinthians 13. We call it the “love chapter,” but it’s really how church members are to relate to one another and to the world. The consumer church members can’t relate to biblical church membership because it’s sacrificial and driven to serve others.

So, pastor, know that you are not alone when you hear those dreaded words, “I’m not getting fed.” It has been said countless times by countless self-centered church members. Rejoice in your church members who serve, encourage, love, and sacrifice. They are God’s instruments in your church.

The consumer church members are nothing but noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. When they leave, there is a lot more peace and God-given quiet in the church.

Posted on April 26, 2021

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Ps. Ochero Simon Peter says on

    Defiantly this has given me more strengthen to rejoice in the lord whom I am called by God Himself to serve.

    Consumerism is deadly spirit in the body of Christ, God help us.

  • Thom S. Rainer I just want to say THANK YOU fro all your wisdom you are sharing by updated leadership in the many ways of staying on top of our responsibilities to further the Kingdom Of God!

  • Sharon Ferdula says on

    I guess that is a sad truth, it is more about us and less about the Lord. We sure have become a nation of me me me. Thank you for all you do to help remind us of where our hearts should be. Blessings

  • Thank you for articulating what most of us have seen for years in church ministry. I am concerned that one of the main “products” of the consumer church is the pastor(s). If the pastor is the product and church members are consumers, we need to be careful that we are not consumed.

    What boundaries can we set to keep from getting consumed?
    What are some practical ways we can help consumers shift their expectations for their pastor(s) and church?

  • This is exactly what I needed today! The Lord recently moved my family across the country to lead a church and we have had 3 families leave in an 8 month period. This article describes each of them to the letter. I appreciate the encouragement that I receive from this blog, please keep up the good work.

  • Joseph A. Machado says on

    Excellent summary of too-often self-righteous consumer church members who do not represent the majority, but often have more publicity than they deserve. I almost used the term influence, but that doesn’t describe the effect of consumer church members.

  • Darryl Lewis says on

    Thank you so much Thom.
    As a pastor I really needed this article.
    God Bless you brother.

  • “Help me understand what it is that will feed you…”

    I have found those words to be disarming – most times it causes a rapid departure of the one not feeling fed. But, I’ll argue as one of the “liturgically based” pastors in the crowd, the form of worship in an Episcopal Church can be uncomfortable to some. That is why I find it important to hear what is offered – is the comment a critique of style or content. If the comment focuses on style it is less divisive.

    One way I have tried to address comments about worship is to ask, “what is the style or form of worship which nourishes you?” Since I know some of the local pastors in our community of more than 100 churches I try to direct the person looking for food towards a church that might be more of their liking. Plenty of options, Lutheran, UCC, Baptist, Presbyterian, Reformed Presbyterian, Methodist, Cogic, et al. to share folks with. I have no idea if the people find a church home but I haven’t had a pastor get on my case for sending people to them (if they actually show up).

    My other experience of “I’m not being fed” is that is a euphemism for “I want more power in this church.” They have tended to proverbially stomp off.

  • WE (Skip) Koshak says on

    Thom – thank you for your blog. Allow me to provide another perspective. Let me begin by acknowledging that western consumerism is a pandemic and of itself. Churches that have adopted marketing techniques have played into that “shopping” mentality, Although many folks who are “church hopping” are not really searching for a Spiritual family, I am certain from observation and personal experience that Believers tryouts seeking depth and genuine transformation in Biblical Community have difficulty finding in where the emphasis is on numerical vs. spiritual growth. Lest we completely discount the exiting observations of those who visit our fellowships, we must examine our discipleship objectives. When people don’t experience what they were promised they become disillusioned thus the question is “what are they being promised?”

  • Excellent encouraging, insightful blog. Many thanks. The consumer church couple who just left our church group made us the fourth one they did that to. And of course in every case it was the fault of the church. Tragic.

  • Thank you for addressing this issue, and I agree with you 100%. This consumer mentality is killing American churches.

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