There are only two choices left once a person buys into a marketing strategy for faith in Christ.
One choice is to go for full disclosure after the person joins the collective of Christ followers and hope they will stay because it has become part of their lives…It is more likely that once a person finds out the actual teachings a Christ follower follows, trouble in the church is coming. Either they will speak out and try to change the beliefs of the Christ followers or leave the collective creating questions about the direction of the church and its effectiveness.
The other choice is to keep the not so glitzy and glamourous things away from them. Keep the church message close to the social justice messages of the world. Make sure the main topic of teaching is; be busy doing things. This avoids topics like sin, right and wrong, our inability to fix ourselves and the true cost of following Christ. If you create a perception that Christ’s call and following Him is totally focused on programs and acts of kindness you match it up with the “American dream” – if you work hard enough you can achieve anything…
When it comes to what I call the landscape…
…of the Christ follower and collective of Christ followers [evangelism] the question I think we must answer is; what am I/are we leaving out of the message and why?
If the answer is I/we don’t leave any specific thing out, the conversation or presentation goes where it goes at the leading of God, then you/your church are presenting your faith.
If instead the answer is I/we don’t talk about certain topics because it may lower our chances of successfully getting the person to join our church, then you/your church are/is marketing your faith…
A Little Understanding – “How-to” Landscaping Books
So you want to make your yard look great do you? Go to a bookstore or go online and get a “how-to” landscape your property, set of instructions, look at the nice colourful pictures and pick the garden you like best. Ignore any climatic requirements listed in the instructions and go straight to the list of plants. Copy the list of plants, buy them and plant them. It’s easy, just dig a hole and shove them in the ground. Make sure you put the plants somewhere close to where you estimate they are in the pictures you saw online or in the “how-to” book. That’s it. You’re done! Just sit back and let nature take over. Your part is complete. Soon you will have a garden just like the one in the book.
Sounds simple enough.
If you know anything about growing plants, it’s also totally crazy. Copying someone else’s success in a different place without any preparation, planning, research or even setting out what you want to accomplish doesn’t seem to be a good idea to me, but I can see how it would be tempting to many. It looks good and worked well for them so it should be perfect for you. You just want to have what they have but instead your yard looks worse than it did before you started…
There is much more to landscaping…
…than putting in a bunch of nice looking stuff and hoping it will give you the desired outcome… Just because you know what looks good doesn’t mean you have the understanding of how it works. Glitzy, glamourous pictures and functioning reality are further apart than our microwave based instant gratification culture wants to face. We want a house or landscaping worthy of the pages of a coffee table book using the same amount of effort and requiring the same amount of time as it takes to thumb through that same book.
A Little Understanding – “How-to” Outreach Books.
Followed like a sacred text or attacked like a blasphemous doctrine, there are many strong opinions about the “how-to” book for outreach.
If you approach it as the formula for outreach success, it becomes the starting point for everything you do as a Christ follower/collective of Christ followers.
If you view it as worldly ways adopted to complete God ordained tasks, it becomes unacceptable even ungodly and must be avoided by all Christ followers/collectives of Christ followers…
I defend the practices contained in “how-to” outreach books by saying they, on their own, are only ideas, they were never intended to become a creed to live by or a doctrine to follow.
I defend those who oppose this movement by saying many people have taken these books and turned them into a creed to live by and a doctrine to follow.
No house can remain standing because of its landscaping, nor will it be inviting without landscaping.
I don’t want to appear naïve.
I know there are “how-to” books that have outlined their approach to outreach and doing church like it was the fulfillment of everything the Bible instructs us to do. I have read marketing strategies that could be employed by the biggest corporations presented as a way to sway people to join a church. I have seen numbers of attendees made more important than transformed lives. These things make me angry… I really want to believe that the author’s desire to see people follow Christ just got a little off track but I just don’t know. That being said, not all authors are the same.
For anyone who reads a “how-to” book on any topic, there is a risk that the points made or steps recommended can become a sort of creed for living. Meant to address a very narrow issue, an author’s work can find such acceptance that people become almost obsessed with its contents. Putting them into practice overshadows all other components of a balanced lifestyle. Avoiding this response to “how-to” outreach books is something that many Christ followers and collectives of Christ followers have failed to do…
Stay tuned A Little Understanding – Landscape and Décor part 3 will be posted in January 2020.
From time to time my blog will include abridged excerpts from my book “Blueprint.” Like any author/blogger, I find it difficult to leave the words I have written in my computer until a publisher can be found. Maybe it’s because someone somewhere needs to read these words now.For more excerpts and quotes from my book Blueprint find the heading “Categories” on the right side of this page and click on “Blueprint (my book)”
Those of us who don’t just READ the Bible, but also try to study and learn from it to pass on some of that understanding (hopefully from the Holy Spirit) it is evident that the “church” today is NOT the church that began with the Apostles and spread through them and the disciples. Today there are just too many “leaders” trying to create a large church, when God specifically called us to make disciples (for Him) so that they in turn could do the same thing.
The principle is exactly the same as you would find in Biology with a single-celled organism dividing itself and then the division continues. Instead, we have created an organic mass that won’t divide but rather smothers the other cells. Instead of creating others who will go out and also do the work they have been called to do, we encourage them to stay put and amass together so that OUR cell gets bigger and bigger.
Pretty soon, the community that needs us is not getting visits from us to meet their needs, they are encouraged to come to us. Just the opposite of what the Lord told the disciples to do. When we as leaders and Pastors can be content with discipling just one person here and one person there, rather than caging a group of people behind four walls then the world around us will see a difference, hopefully in time before the Lord comes back.
**And no, I am not against brick-and-mortar churches as long as they are training people to go out and do what God has called them to do. Too many leaders though are ego-driven and want to create numbers that look to themselves only as the leader. However, thankfully there ARE exceptions and these churches are truly dynamic!
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So true – well done good and faithful servant said as we receive our reward seems to have been replaced by mine’s bigger than yours so I must be a good and faithful servant said by pastors of today
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Sadly so very true, brother! We will NEVER run out of things and people to pray for.
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