Ecclesiastical Consumerism

From Paul Tripp Ministries


What God has ordained to sanctify his church is both wonderful and sobering. It is wonderful because he is a jealous and determined God. His work in his people will not fail.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

But it is also sobering because this sanctifying work follows an “all of my people, all of the time” model. No one has been chosen by God just to be a recipient of the redemptive work of his kingdom; no, everyone who has been chosen to be a recipient has also been commissioned to be an instrument of the work of that kingdom as well.

To bring about the completion of our redemption, God chooses to use ordinary, messy people to accomplish this extraordinary, divine work.

I don’t know about you, but if it were up to me, I would rather place my sanctification in the hands of trained ministers and paid professionals. But that simply is not the biblical model.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Did you notice the model? God has appointed his church with leaders, not to bear the full ministry load of the body of Christ, but to equip each member to join in his work of personal transformation.

First, the math just doesn’t work. A church could never hire enough paid staff to meet all the ministry needs of their congregation, regardless of how small the weekly attendance or how large the annual budget.

But second is our attitude towards church and our involvement in ministry. I am persuaded that the church today has many more consumers than committed participants.

For most of us, church is merely an event we attend or an organization we belong to. We do not see it as a calling that shapes our entire life. Our tendency toward ecclesiastical consumerism has seriously weakened the church.

Sure, Joe and Sheila may volunteer for a specific activity like VBS or a diaconal project, but this frequently falls woefully short of the “everyone, all the time” model of the New Testament.

The “passive body that pays the professionals” culture of the modern evangelical church must be forsaken for the ministry model God has so wisely ordained. All of us, as God’s children, are enlisted into “the work of ministry”—and each of us needs the daily intervention this ministry provides, too!

If you followed the Lord for a thousand years, you would still need the ministry of the body of Christ as much as you did the day you first believed. This need will remain until our sanctification is complete in glory.

Reflect on your own story of sanctification. Isn’t it true that God has used ordinary brothers and sisters to change your heart and transform your life in extraordinary ways? It’s not just the result of formal ministry activities or paid ministry professionals.

The central work of God’s kingdom is change. God uses people, who are themselves in need of change, as instruments of the same kind of change in others.

A Prayer for Today: Lord, would you mold and shape me into a person who is, at first, willing to change? Then God, would you help me to see that I am a part of your plan to redeem the world and draw people to you? Would you help me to be intentionally aware that you want to use me, and would you make me into the kind of person who is always available and willing to be an instrument in your hands that might bring others into a relationship with you? In the name of Jesus my Lord I pray, amen.

God bless,

Paul David Tripp



Discussion Prompt for Children

Why is it important to work as a team with everyone in a group instead of separately when it comes to getting a big job done? How can we have a “group plan” when it comes to God’s work in the world to bring people to Jesus?

Reflection Questions

1. Why do you think it’s so easy to dismiss that you are a commissioned instrument in the work of God’s kingdom? What are some specific belief systems you hold that might be contributing to the idea that ministry work is for “formal ministry activity time” or the responsibility of paid ministry officials?

2. What are a few feelings that come to the surface when you begin to understand that no one has been chosen by God just to be only a recipient of the redemptive work of his kingdom and that everyone who has been chosen to be a recipient has also been commissioned to be an instrument in the work of that kingdom as well? What are some thoughts or words you might use to push back on that idea of kingdom involvement for you?

3. Why is the central work of God’s kingdom the element of change? What are some areas of your life where God might be calling you to change? How would change in you impact your family, friends, community, church, etc.? What is the biggest roadblock to change in your life? How can you be praying intentionally to ask God to change you?

4. Who is someone you’ve observed make changes in their life? How and why was that inspirational to you? What can you learn from their intentional choices to change? In what ways can you implement some of their “change choices” into your life that you might become more and more like your Savior?

5. What do you think is a good indicator of a person who’s made significant changes in their life to live more intentionally like a Jesus follower? How might God be calling you to change right now? Take a moment and ask him to work in your heart and change you in both general and specific ways.

Ecclesiastical Consumerism

New Hope Presbyterian Church Bridgeton, NJ

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