Very good question! And I don’t know if this happens where you are, but with summer just around the corner, our area has a bit of marketing competition over Vacation Bible School for children.
Who has the best banners out front? The best theme? The most engaging activities? I just don’t know how I feel about it all. I want children to be exposed to the Bible and Jesus, and I know that there are so many other things competing for their attention. Plus, in a way, it’s also marketing to the parents as well.
So it sure seems like there’s not only the marketing of Christianity being a “must have” commodity (that seems like an odd word to use there, even though it’s a marketing kind of word) but also marketing of one’s particular brand of Christianity. Is there any way out?!?
Oh, and for adults who are visiting…I have seriously heard statements like these when visiting different denominations: “Baptists are the best cooks, you know!” “Methodists really know how to do a pot luck social.” “Nobody is better at baking Christmas cookies than the Presbyterians.” (Now I must admit that being a bit overweight may have something to do with the statements that are aimed at my stomach and not my spirit! It’s obvious this guy likes to eat!)
Anyway, very thought provoking post!
I love your observations and your struggle with the way things are in much of North American church culture. I am with you – I think you and I may be rebelling against the “man” – how late 60’s & early 70’s of me lol.
I think that the line between marketing and evangelism is Kingdom building vs kingdom building (don’t miss the capital “K” on the first one). Like you said some are about the “marketing of one’s particular brand of Christianity” which I dare say may be more about the local church’s popularity and persona, their kingdom, than about God, The Kingdom. That’s why I wrote the book Blueprint (I know it sounds like I am trying to sell my book but it isn’t in print yet so there is nothing to sell). The beautiful banners, the high quality program and the best food (my wife makes a mean rice pudding for pot luck – that is the only reason they hire me as a pastor) should be the result of answering the call to do God’s will – God’s way – in God’s timing – with God’s chosen resources, not the church’s way of making the community notice them when they feel they need to be noticed. I wish we as churches would shut down everything we do with the exception of the weekly church service(s) and make God the center through prayer. Out of that would come the calling to start programs. It is the knowledge that we are doing everything out of God’s specific calling for our church that should make us do things with excellence not the desire to market the church and its programs. Even the biggest Mega-church can’t compete with the marketing of worldly items that often replace God, but then we weren’t called to market but instead to evangelize. Marketing relies on human efforts to convince – evangelism relies on the power of the Holy Spirit to convict.
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Okay, rice pudding would be the perfect marketing strategy for me!
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