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Ask Not What…

50 years ago this week John F. Kennedy gave his famous Inaugural Speech.  The line “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” is easily identified.  It was a call to sacrifice and service.  As an American this is a call that we still need to hear.  In a country that is showing an ever increasing entitlement attitude, it is a needed correction.

However, my concern is with the church.  I have always been uneasy with certain aspects of American church life.  One of those is the consumer mentality.  The consumer mentality asks what programs the church offers.  The mentality is how well does it meet my needs. Questions center around what the church is offering.

Sadly, churches also have bought into this mentality.  Churches advertise themselves based upon what services that they offer. Advertisements trumpet the great youth ministry, the awesome Children’s group, the Mother’s Day out on Tuesday, the hope is that when the consumer sees what is offered they will decide to become a part of the group.

When I read of Christ and the Early Church this is not the mentality that I see.  Jesus stated that He came to serve not to be served.  The Greatest in the Kingdom is the servant of all.  These truths should point is to a different way of viewing being a part of a local church.  Choosing and living within a church is not about what church best fits my needs, but rather where can I be most used.

The by-product is a lack of commitment.  If church membership is about what the particular church does for me, then when that church stops meeting your needs or another church meets your needs better, then you move on.  If a problem arises, then instead of working to find solutions, you move on to a new place.  Church-hopping becomes the norm.

Today, Christians needs to hear, “Ask Not What the church can do for you–ask what you can do for the church”.  Or as Jesus said about Himself, “we should come to serve, not be served.”



  1. There is something to be said for the nearest congregation of the saints being an hour away. We can’t do the church shopping that so many others do. So we have to work at helping our congregation becoming that “Light on a Hill”, But even here we still fall in the mentality that we have to compete with the denominations. We need to realize that we have salvation to offer that is far above any program.

  2. Totally agree Wesley! But my question would be, as leaders in the church, how do we change that mentality? And another question would be, how do we reach out to the lost in a culture that has that mentality?

  3. Wesley

    January 20, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I think we have to be honest about the mentality and challenge it in our preaching and teaching. Then we need to evaluate what we are doing to decide is this primarily an activity where we are being served or an activity where we are serving.

    It is sad that we so quickly give up on the drawing power that is the gospel. Jesus said when I am lifted up (crucified) I will draw all men unto myself. The only power we have to reach a lost world and convert them is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Changing the mentality will not be easy, but the church has always had to stand-up to culture.

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