The Preference Driven Church

preference driven

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill.

It’s not just the hip, trendy churches who are preference driven. Other churches are motivated by preference, they just don’t realize it.

A post I wrote at Facts & Trends about why millennials weren’t at church garnered a lot of attention and significant discussion in the comment section. I appreciated the dialogue, including legitimate disagreement.

There was one type of comment that popped up repeatedly. It was basically, “Why should we care what the people leaving think? If we are preaching God’s word and they leave, it’s their fault.”

In some regards, I understand the sentiment. We do not compromise our convictions or our stand on God’s word to satisfy the whims of anyone, including those that are leaving.

However, the issues I discussed were not calls to ignore biblical doctrine. It was adjusting the way we do things, including, in some cases, a return to biblical ideals that have been ignored.

Here are the six reasons I said millennials were not at your church:

  • You are not online
  • You are too inward focused
  • You aren’t trustworthy
  • You aren’t diverse
  • You are too institutional
  • You don’t offer real community

Tell me exactly which one of those is advocating an abandonment of scriptural teaching?

What these particular commenters didn’t want to admit – what most of us don’t want to admit – is that our church (and every church) is preference driven. The only question is: who’s preferences are driving?

Those that were critiquing the post and any calls to change our methodology to reach millennials or anyone else not in church, have a preference to the way church is done. It just so happens that their preferences are the ones being implemented.

So what this amounted to was those inside the church, whose preferences were accepted, complaining about those outside, whose preferences were being ignored.

At this point, the issue is revealed for what it is (and I’m about to be blunt) – utter, contemptible selfishness. It is the refusal to change the way you like to do things, even if it means people walk away from your church and Christ.

There is a difference between a preference and a conviction. One is grounded in personal tastes and the other in biblical teaching. Too often, people refuse to recognize the distinction between the two.

It’s perfectly fine to have preferences. We all do. But it’s not OK to demand everyone everywhere accept your preferences before they can come to church.

We do not want to unchurched governing the church and dictating our convictions to us, but altering our preferences to be more accommodating to them can be a good thing. It can let them know they are wanted.

Your church should reflect your community. If it does, eventually, your community will reflect your church.

[Tweet “Your church should reflect your community. If it does, your community will reflect your church.”]

People on the outside will feel welcome on the inside and will become a part of the inside – because their preferences were taken into consideration.

Simply put, let the unchurched have a vote in how you do church. I’m not saying they get veto power over doctrinal convictions, but maybe you consider their thoughts when planning your music, ministry ideas and building plan.

Let them have a voice, as much as it is possible, in preference issues, so that you they will give you an ear in gospel issues.

Your church, like every church, is preference driven, but if the only preferences taken into consideration are yours, you’ll drive everyone else away.

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About Author

Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.