Manifestations of Consumer Church

kinnon —  June 4, 2008 — 9 Comments

Last week, certain sections of the Christian interwebs were atwitter with a “staff video” from the Creative Pastor himself, Ed Young Jr.

Dear Ed has a rant on Church Pirates that he had his staff put up at YouTube. Jared Wilson pointed at the MMI post about the video. Todd’s post now has close to 4200 reads and over 140 comments in the week it’s been up. (The video has 7,200 views @ YouTube as of this morning.) Ed has a blog where you can comment – although not all comments get approved.

I don’t feel an overwhelming need to add to the fisking that has already taken place on Ed’s video. He very effectively demonstrates the heart of the consumer church – it’s about growing your audience. And. If someone steals part of your audience, well…

“…if this happened in the business world or the corporate world some of these people would be in jail by what they’ve done. You cannot do that in the corporate world.”

As one who has had employees head off to start their own businesses and taken a third of our clientele with them (in the last millenium), Ed doesn’t now what he’s talking about. But. We need to thank Ed for identifying his “church” for what it really is, a business. Though. I must confess that I find the business a little confusing as he refers to his customers as sheep. I mutton understand.

“Baaaaah, I’m not into moving sheep from place to place, I’m not into stealing sheep.” (From approx. 2:50 in the video.)

Well, apparently I did want to add to the fisking. Now, Ed would be from the Independent Baptist/Disney/Las Vegas Show wing of the Church.

But. That isn’t the only wing of Christendom manifesting consumer church. A thousand miles east and a couple of hundred miles south of Ed’s Church, the circus has come to Lakeland, Florida. This circus features the Tattooed Man, an Angel named Emma, another angel who apparently used to do the circuit with William Branham, a re-enactment of that famous old spiritual “Drop kick me Jesus through the Goal Post of Life” and more. (Now, why does it remind me of this story?) Like most circuses, the best seats come at an increased price – and if you want more, you’ll just have to pay more. Must be God’s new economy?!.

Folks, forgive me, but this too is just consumer church. Granted of a decidedly more bizarre and, perhaps, more sinister nature. It’s all about me and my needs/wants/desires – about what I can get from Santa God.

And it is both indicative and an indictment of the church in the west.

God help us all.

UPDATE: Robbymac’s post from very early this morning fits well with this post.

UPDATE 2: Rylan sent me this link to an Ed Young Jr. / Joel Osteen love fest setup. I couldn’t watch the whole thing. My 19 year old son commented, “it’s amazing how self-focused they are, and it’s amazing how much ed young makes pastoring seem like any other profession with earthly measures of success…

UPDATE 3: Trevin Wax (via Triple D’s link blog) on Will Preaching the Gospel Empty Your Church.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

9 responses to Manifestations of Consumer Church

  1. Yeah … seems kinda pathetic. I watched the vid. It is hard to feel any sympathy for him. I am sure a large percentage of ‘his’ people are from other churches in the area that he inadvertently took away from smaller fellowships. I wonder what the other area pastors think of him – probably think he is a pirate.

    Also, its disturbing to hear him refer to ‘lay people’ and ‘sheep’ like he owns them, like they are his. And what is up with disloyal? Is this Rome? Is he Caesar? Who should their loyalty be to?

    If people are leaving and leaders are leaving he needs to look in the mirror. The guy in the mirror is the only one any of us can control or fix.

    Hard to feel sorry for him, but that is just what he wants. Sympathy.

  2. That made me sad.

  3. I watched the Ed Jr video. Wow! He seemed petty and a wee-bit uptight and miffed. This I know…there is NO WAY he built a large church in USAmerica on new converts. He provided more cookies and candy than the guy down the street and the kiddies came running.

    I sense he was in pain and hurting from the lose of what was probably a friend. He is hurting and missing the folks who left and went with the friend, but you can see an underlying anger in the tone of the video. He should have gritted his teeth and waited about 12 months before he made such a public statement…maybe even not said one thing.

    From his statement, there is no doubt he takes his leadership and church building cues from the business world. What really seemed to get him, is he cannot “retaliate” in a business manner. A Jesus thing to do would be to show up at the “new” church with his entire congregation one Sunday and leave an HUGE offering and maybe some new equipment and a 15 passenger van and then go into the community and invite folks to a celebration festival for the new church…that would be different…

  4. I so don’t have time to watch videos of pathetic middle aged men with messiah complexes.

    This reminds me of one of my favorite lines in a Law & Order episode … “this church has 150,000 members. If you have a quality product, people want it.” So … I guess he doesn’t have a quality product. Big deal.

  5. Supporters keep trying to point out that Young is not talking about church planters but about long time employees who either broadcast their intention of splitting the church or “bide their time” for 20 years before bolting.


    Firstly, if a minister is actually broadcasting his desire to gather a following and split, he should be fired. And doesn’t that sort of indict Young,’s instincts and insights that an ego-driven guy like that could slip through the hiring cracks?
    More likely is that they are looking for ego-driven guys, Type-A motivational speaker types to build up “the team,” and then of course they reap the fruit of such hiring practice.

    Secondly, nobody “bides his time” for 20 years. The idea that somebody wanting to plant a church full of stolen sheep would get a job at a church and keep it for 20 years just to pull a fast one is laughable.

    This video is actually a masterpiece of pastoral paranoia.

  6. I really don’t know what to say.

    Are you heading to South Africa Bill?

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog on my first visit today and plan to come back later for more. Given your propensity for consumerism, I thought you might like to check out this little doozy I stumbled on today. link to At least they’re upfront about being a business. (As long as the gospel message fits on the front of a t-shirt.)

  8. Thanks Janetta, I’ve checked it out.

    To the best of my knowledge, I’m not going to South Africa, Rickard.

    Jared, indeed. And if I wasn’t for reading your blog, I never would have seen the EYJ video. I confess that Ed makes me crazy. So I try to avoid reading anything to do with him. You, I’ll read as often as you post!

  9. Bill, you are a wise man. You said it so well. As I watched and blogged about the video post on Out of UR it seemed to me that Ed was doing satire on himself and he did not even know it.

    What if the very thing Ed has interpreted as “pirating” and division is actually God working to deconstruct the idol that is the religious-mega-motivational-speaker-circus.

    I too ran across the Ed Young/Joel Osteen video where again it seems they do satire on themselves and they don’t even know it. That video made me nauseous. But before I turned completely cynical, I remembered that Christ works through the small things, often on the margins.


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