Friday, May 15, 2015


According to Wikipedia there are approximately 1,600 Christian radio stations in the United States. Some of these stations are fairly large while others are smaller, local stations. Many Christians leave their radios tuned to the favorite station to listen to the speakers and musicians they enjoy the most. However, I have found that there is one station that many Christians prefer over all others: WII-FM (What's in it for me?).

This is the station that people listen to just before they tell the pastor they are leaving for another church because "They aren't being fed here." People who decide to leave their church because they were not selected for a certain position often listen to this station before leaving. As people are presented with ideas for new ministries or possible changes in the way things are being done they often replay their favorite selections from WII-FM. Then they are ready to oppose whatever is being presented.

Somewhere these people have never been taught that it really isn't all about them, or at least it's not supposed to be. It is supposed to be about advancing the Kingdom of God. It is supposed to be about finding ways to reach people for whom Jesus died. Church was never meant to be a luxury hotel for saints; it is supposed to be a hospital for sinners. A congregation is not to call a pastor to serve them but to lead them as they use the gifts God has given them to serve others.

Maintenance-minded churches spend a lot of time listening to WII-FM. Its programs are soothing to those who are waiting for someone else to feed them and meet their every need.

Missional churches really don't spend much time listening to that station. They don't have time. These churches are too busy in the community touching people's lives where they live. Besides, they really don't buy into the programming presented on WII-FM. Something doesn't sound right. In fact, it sounds almost heretical.

By the way, it's not only individuals in churches who enjoy WII-FM. Entire churches will sometimes listen and get caught up in its philosophy. These are the churches who begin to ask themselves what their denomination is doing for them. They wonder if it's not about time to leave their denomination and join another or become independent.

I heard of one such church earlier this week. The caller thought that church had voted to withdraw from its denomination because the denomination doesn't do anything for them. I asked the caller if the church had ever requested help from the denomination to which it belonged, and he did not believe it had.

As a judicatory leader for the past 14 years this is one of my greatest frustrations. I can't speak for every leader of every denomination, but every one I've met is willing to do anything that will benefit one of their churches. The problem is that many of these churches never ask, and none of us are mind readers.

I have no way of knowing a church is involved in a conflict and needs someone to help mediate it unless someone tells me. Unless a church lets me know it is struggling trying to understand God's vision for its future, I can't help them through a process of discerning that vision. We have several good stewardship programs that can help a church's giving, but unless we know a church is interested in such a program we can't help them.

Which churches do we help? The ones who ask for such help. Which ones do we help the least? The ones who never bother to ask, and these are the ones who wonder why they remain in their denomination.

WII-FM is dangerous to both individual believers and to congregations. Buying into its philosophy will hinder the individual's spiritual growth and the growth of the church. We are not here to be served but to serve, and that is not a message you'll hear on WII-FM. Instead of asking "What's in it for me?" we should be asking "How can I help?".

1 comment:

Dan L. Barringer said...

From a retired judicatory minister, pastor and transitional minister, I say "Amen."