Wagging the Institution
Tags: Church Growth Movement, Church Growth
Consultant, Great Commission, Frank Pooler, Holy Spirit
It is important to understand at this point that these biblical truths are not intended to exclude various marketing provisions that are designed to get the world out. Every time a church publishes a newspaper ad or hangs a sign out announcing some event, it has become involved in marketing. People will not come to a church event unless they know it is there and advertising is the way to get the word out.
During the time that I was on the road ministering in music with a band, a lot of surprising circumstances unfolded that left us completely dumbfounded. In one instance, as we were talking to the pastor before a gig we discovered that he had done nothing to advertise the concert we were going to perform in that night. The pastor simply stated that they were trusting in the Holy Spirit to bring the people in. We played for only the pastor and his family that evening.
In another instance a church fully devoted to the make everything in the church marketable creed in reality did the worst job of promotion imaginable. The advertising material that was published in print was horrific and did nothing to attract people to the church. However, great effort was exerted to clothe every ministry and event with a particular look as to catch the attention of an audience. The irony of the whole affair was that while zealously focusing all of their attention on marketing they missed the point of what marketing is all about getting the word out to people. On one weekend the church threw an evangelistic concert and failed to adequately advertise it. Hardly anybody showed. Sometimes the obvious is the thing that is most often missed.
To neglect advertising is nothing more than the same impertinence that the devil tempted Jesus with when he suggested that the Lord jump from the temple pinnacle. To fail to put effort into getting the word out is no different than jumping off a building and expecting Gods angels to catch us. It is nothing other than presumption. But Jesus said to him (Satan), It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God. (Matt 4:7 MKJV)
The Great Commission is our calling and we do need to get the message of the Gospel out. (Matt 28:19) But what is being suggested by many today goes far beyond evangelism and promotion. It is the proposal of the bulk of our Church Growth specialists today to alter the very worship life of the church to make church itself marketable as if there is nothing about body life that is attractive. So under their scheme, everything that the church does should be designed to sell. As the renowned choir director Frank Pooler once said: I have discovered that institutions tend to turn to marketing when they feel vulnerable and then the marketer wags the institution. Wagging the institution is what the Church Growth crowd is after.
My wife, Vanessa, happens to be in charge of marketing for a new homebuilder. The philosophy of this organization is to build a good product and then market it as such. This is not so in many churches today and we see the marketer wagging the institution everywhere we look. As the church today delves into new marketing strategies, along with adopting the enlightened conform to the world marketing approach presented by growth consultants, pastors will determine that the church itself is not marketable. Yet churches have always had the best imaginable product to market. This is the Gospel set within a rich 2,000-year history that answers all of the questions of life. But more times than not when churches get involved with these new marketing schemes, the message gets watered down and the heritage of the church evaporates as if it is an embarrassment. And rather than marketing music, they suggest that the church makes its music marketable. The idea is to change the very fabric of the church to make it more appealing until nothing is considered for its intrinsic value. If it gets in the way of growth, then throw it out.
This not only is destructive but a work of the flesh. It is impossible to be effective for God when you depend upon the merits of your own strength. The church cannot grow apart from the work of Gods hand through the Holy Spirit. (Rom 8:5) And though we have been called to go ye therefore, if the message and the church itself have been watered down in the process, then what is the sense in going? For if the church in history is rejected, then of what value is the message upon which it was built? And if the message itself is discarded, what is left?
So watch out for those who will tell you otherwise. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. (Eph 5:6-8 MKJV)
True growth is not primarily a marketing issue, but the result of spiritual fruit that ushers from the Holy Spirit . . .People have spiritual needs. And, mainly because of theological and political liberalism, our society is a pretty frightening place to be in these days. It is the churchs job to provide the peace and security that the Christian truth base, tradition and sound doctrine offers. And if it provides this, lost people will come. God will take care of that. Its just that simple.
Christians are not called to conform to society, but to influence it. This is because they are commanded by God to be different. The Biblical Church has successfully adhered to that principle for 2,000 years and Christianity has fared quite well because of it. Contrary to the contentions of our contemporary Church Growth consultants, there is no reason to believe that things have changed today.
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