Pastor's Blog

God’s “product” is the church – that group of people in which the Spirit works, each part influencing the others toward spiritual maturity (godliness and Christ-likeness).  I have suggested that if you want to market the church, the “product” to be “marketed” is the group of people itself and the process of maturing through interaction with each other in everyday life.

But I have always had trouble selling that idea.

I believe we tend to “market” our properties and our programs instead.  It’s much easier to market, and I’m not opposed to it in principle.  But when you put second things first, when you make fringe accessories the core, you distort the picture – and often your thought and practice. 

When you focus on marketing programs and properties (the word in vogue is “your campus”) you feed a consumer mentality and invite people to shop for what meets their needs.  People come to get – to take – and don’t have to give any thought to giving, to doing the work of providing, to developing a sense of personal responsibility to be a part of the body’s work.

Perhaps this is unavoidable, especially in America where the culture is consumer-oriented.  All I know is that “all take and no give” is not the biblical picture of the mentality of the Christian church. 

But some people – Christians – are content to take for years.  Even for decades.

Churches serve up a smorgasbord of “ministry” if you will.  People can go to Church A for the preaching, Church B for a small group, Church C for worship music, and maybe send your kids to the youth group at Church D, and summer camp with the gang from Church E.  All without feeling a need to commit themselves to the work at any one place.

Even better – if you can build a megachurch that pays professionals to do all the ministering, no one in the church needs to commit to anything.  It’s the ultimate in religious smorgasbord experience!

I’ve watched people use churches this way for years.  They will send their kids to the VBS of one church the second week of June, to another church the third week of June, and so on throughout the summer.  The church provides free babysitting for the kids and the parents get a break they feel is well-deserved – without ever feeling any personal responsibility to help with a VBS at any one church, because they aren’t committed to any one church.

In the meantime, a handful of people at each church work like crazy to provide a good experience for the children and after doing so for a few years, they often burn out.

My purpose is not to criticize megachurches or ministries like VBS.  I’m simply observing that when you market “ministries” you feed and perpetuate a consumer mentality.  These ministries are good things but not core things.  They are not what the church is about.  But we end up making them what the church is about.  That skews our vision.  We miss the core things.

I am all for things like VBS.  But for me, it is not about what the kids are doing.  It’s about the fellowship and camaraderie – the real love and appreciation for each other – being built among those running the VBS.  That is what the body is about; that is the core.  If kids learn a Bible story or two and get a good taste in their mouth for the church – so much the better.

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