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Customers, Employees and…

June 26, 2007

What do you have in your fellowship? Recently I was reading Inc. Magazine and a recent conversation made me ask this question. What I mean is do those who gather perceive themselves as employees or customers? Maybe you are thinking I see volunteers, well do those volunteers behave as customers, employees or something else?

Now to be up front the comment that sparked this was someone saying that they were shopping for a church to attend. The use of this consumer language got me to thinking. I have had people call me and give me their church shopping list. What programs do you have for children, youth and adults. I understand this and I’m certainly not saying that you become a part of a church that you don’t feel connected to. To be honest I have left jobs as an employee because I didn’t like my treatment or the company direction so in many ways there is no difference.

No, you see I was reading about a salt company in Utah whose owners hired a manager who reworked the entire company. The new president’s concept was that everyone is an owner. He figured that he could get a lot more out of his employees if they were owners. Now he had to rework a lot of company culture because people were use to being employees, and underpaid employees at that.

You see it is easy to say you want people to feel like owners but quit another to actually do it. Here is my rub. You see when you have a paycheck and company stock you can make someone feel like an employee by benefits and salary. You can give them a stake and that instantly makes a difference.

What I would love to hear is your feedback on this for a church. How does or would a church make sure people feel like owners? I mean that really is what everyone is, we are called a priesthood of believers. The company gives their employees a lot of free reign to make decisions on their own, no micromanaging. Maybe that is a start. What do you think?

You see for me I know too many employees, I put my time in at church so let’s go home and do whatever we want, and I have struggled with the laundry list of customer desires and complaints, we want more contemporary or more traditional, can we change the carpet… Neither to me seem like a way to be a fellowship or what was intended for the church.

I am waiting patiently for your feedback and thanks.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. DPBurns permalink
    June 26, 2007 2:49 pm

    Darin this sure is a needed topic. arent most people who come into your congregation new, comsumers. How do we define the difference in a church setting? I would love to say that all who come in to give rather than get are coming in as empowered employees rather than consumers, but it may not be true. I woould guess in your medical mission you have had or will have some people join your congregation on both sides: providers and recievers. I think for the most part we need to be a community that encourages its members to use their gifts and talents and find their own ways to minister to others. I think too often in our congregations we think some has to stop recieving before they become a full member and start a ministry, but we shouldnt if as a member you need to recieve from a ministry such as a clothing room but you give our time to something such as a medical mission, or vice versa. Isnt that what religion is us journeying together holding each other up and accountable in the difficult times.

    I just realized how much I wrote, I really dont think I am this important.


  2. June 26, 2007 3:19 pm

    I think you bring up some great thoughts. In any company setting as an employee I do receive benefits from the company and I do consume to a degree different aspects of the experience, so yes as an owner I still receive as I also give.

    We do see that in our ministries, at least the Medical Mission. We have members who are first get their medication who turn around once they have seen the doctor and help out with the ministry.

    I find your point that most people come first as consumers to be interesting and I would love to discuss that further.

  3. October 22, 2008 3:25 am

    I like the statement regarding shopping for a church, as one would shop as a consumer. What’s wrong with that? I think that more people should give more thought to their religious fellowship, their shopping experience as well as their employers. I think about everyone of them. I only go for the best in each. If they don’t treat me right, including the church, then they won’t see me. believe it. I want to add your comments on my blog. I think my readers will find you interesting.

    Thanks Ericka Courtney

  4. October 22, 2008 2:19 pm


    Thanks for stopping in. The only problem would be that the church was intended to be a body. The power comes not from finding which one we like but in finding the one we are called to be a part of.

    The body of Christ has impact when people come to give not get, to give of their unique talents and gifts. I go to the store to get. I don’t think anything about what I give when I’m at the grocery store beyond the price of the item.

    Unfortunately that is what most people are doing but instead of an actual price tag people guesstimate. They figure how much time to I need to donate to justify what I get. How much should I put in the plate etc.

    Is it any wonder that the church is so anemic today?

    I understand why so many think this way. We are inundated with a consumer culture. As you said, we want the best of everything. The kingdom of God is about giving not getting and so I would think the church should be countercultural on this one.

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