Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Church Growth for sale?

I was doing a quick search for some information on the internet and I noticed a link that didn't seem to have much to do with my search but was about church growth, so I followed it. It was set out like one of those long, long pages of advertising. you may know the kind of thing. It reads like a JML ad. "Would you pay $100 for this package? Well we're not asking a 100, we're not even asking 50. And wait, get this free gift worth another $37 absolutely free." And so it goes on with various bits of text in bold, underlined and even highlighted.

The point of this web page was to convince the reader that if they were serious about growing their church then they would naturally want to sign up to the free newsletter and buy the programme.

Now I don''t know how effective the programme is (they claim you can double you attendance in 90 days!), but I was struck by the obvious marketing nature of what was on offer. I'm sure there are some good, even sound Biblical principles in the programme, but nothing got mentioned on the web page. And God seemed rather conspicuous by his absence too.

Do we really want to grow churches that are built around good marketing strategies? What if ours is a time like Isaiah's when the challenge was to stay faithful in the face of diminishing faithfulness? And then again, is the goal to fill our auditoria to overflowing? Bigger buildings do not make a Biblical community. It takes more than that.

I guess what bothered me most apart form the apparent absence of God for the strategy, was the presentation of a quick fix for declining church attendance. It was as if I was being invited to become the envy of my friends by having a new building and a bigger congregation of apparently more committed members than the church down the road. I fear such a strategy simply moves the sheep from one pen to another.

The church is neither mine nor yours. And Jesus did happen to point out that he would build the church, which sort of suggests our role is that of partner not entrepreneur in this kingdom project.

In the end our gifts and skills and drives have to be subservient to God's greater plan and purpose. I will keep reminding myself that it is God's mission in which I'm an invited partner, not the other way around.

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