“The great American innovation in congregation is to turn it into a consumer enterprise. If we have a nation of consumers, obviously the quicker and most effective way to get them into our congregations is to identify what they want and offer it to them, satisfy their fantasies, promise them the moon, recast the gospel in consumer terms: entertainment, satisfaction, excitement, adventure, problem-solving, whatever. This is the language we Americans grow up on, the language we understand. We are the world’s champion consumers, so why shouldn’t we have state- of-the art consumer churches?
Given the conditions prevailing in our culture, this is the best and most effective way that has ever been devised for gathering large and prosperous congregations. Americans lead the way in showing how to do it. There is only one thing wrong: this is not the way in which God brings us into conformity with the life of Jesus and sets us on the way of Jesus’ salvation. This is not the way in which we become less and Jesus becomes more. This is not the way in which our sacrificed lives become available to others in justice and service. The cultivation of consumer spirituality is the antithesis of a sacrificial, “deny yourself” congregation. A consumer church is an antichrist church.
We can’t gather a God-fearing, God-worshiping congregation by cultivating a consumer-pleasing, commodity-oriented congregation. When we do, the wheels start falling off the wagon. And they are falling off the wagon. We can’t suppress the Jesus way in order to sell the Jesus truth. The Jesus way and the Jesus truth must be congruent. Only when the Jesus way is organically joined with the Jesus truth do we get the Jesus life.”
Eugene Peterson in The Jesus Way