I’m confident in saying that the majority of our students who come to our weekly program are there by choice. Granted a few of them have been “strongly encouraged” by parents, but for the most part they are owning it. I wish I could say that was true about all aspects of our ministry. When it comes to sacramental preparation there is a huge consumer mindset that we battle. We have a decent number of parents and teens trying to check the box of things they “have to do“.
Doesn’t matter the denomination or the style of your youth ministry consumerism is a problem that all youth ministry’s face. It happens when:
- People feel the pressure to reach certain milestones in their faith.
- Students become too comfortable in your ministry.
- Events have outlasted their purpose.
- You’re changing the paradigm of your ministry.
To combat the consumerism you need to change the focus and mindset. That means reminding people that it’s not all about them, it’s about God. To change the mindset you need to:
- Set Clear Expectations: People will come to their own conclusions on what your ministry does or who they serve if it isn’t clearly explained to them. That means laying out what is expected of them, what they can expect from you and your ministry. Get everyone on the same page and you will find less people marching to their own drum.
- Focus On The Relationship: Consumerism comes from the idea of, “What’s best for me?”. Ministry needs to be what is best for our relationship with Jesus Christ. When it comes to “Check Box” items in your ministry you need to make sure people are trying to rush through it. By making it relational you encourage people to slow down and evaluate how well it is they know Christ. When someone is focused on Christ they realize it isn’t about them.
- Evaluate The Purpose Of Your Programs: Your programs could be creating consumers because people have become too comfortable. Everyone desires comfort and they’ll do what it takes to make sure no one changes that. Consistently review and analyze your ministry to avoid this path. Make sure you are taking risks, thinking outside the box and looking to grow disciples. You’ll experience conflict, but that’s normal because you are asking people to change.
- Check Your Own Mindset: If you are a consumer driven leader you’ll create consumer driven disciples. Make sure you are not making your ministry about what you want or what you desire. Work on your personal relationship with Christ so that you continue to follow His lead. Growing disciples means growing as one yourself.
A consumer driven ministry is key to burn out and a waste of your stewardship. It’ll drive you crazy because keeping up with the demands of the consumer is impossible. Shape the way by changing the mindset to contributor. A contributor driven ministry will constantly hit new heights because it’s focused on Christ.
What do you see as consumer driven in youth ministry?