Market driven church.

August 24, 2007 at 8:03 am 4 comments

Many of you who read this blog attend church somewhere but there are quite a few of you who no longer attend at all.  There have been a lot of moments during these last months where I have wondered if the church has ceased to be the Church Jesus said He would build and become just another institution trying to get it’s market share.  I have not given up but I am asking totally different questions about the church then I used to.

Here are a few quotes that got my attention last night. 

Author Bill Easum writes in a his book A Second Resurrection, that the fix for the what ails the American church may be more invasive than we might think:

Is it possible we have underestimated the seriousness of Western Protestantism’s situation? What if the metaphors of reformation, renewal, and revitalization don’t get to the heart of the problem? What if the situation is much worse than those words describe? What if the vast majority of congregations in the West are spiritually dead and God no longer considers them churches? What if God has one foot out the door of most of Western Protestantism? What if the vast majority of churches are like the church of Laodicea in the Book of Revelation? What if God is about to spit us out of his mouth?

Reformation, renewal, and revitalization assume some pre-existing foundation of faith from which to raise up a true Church. But what if that assumption isn’t correct? What if that assumption is part of the problem?…

Easum concludes that most institutions have “ceased being the church,” and that except for a remnant, the people who make up the institution are spiritually dead.  Yikes!

Then this from Kevin Ford’s book Church Transformation:

The problem is not whether or not a church has a dynamic preacher, a worship band, or liturgy. The problem is that too many churches, consciously or not, have emphasized production of spiritual goods to satisfy individual appetites. As people who attend church, we may not have asked yet if we would like to add fries to the order of faith, but we have learned how to look for what we like. And if we don’t find it or it mysteriously disappears, then, like the members of focus groups, the next step is obvious: Head down the road a mile or two to the next McChurch.

Fast food will no doubt always get its share of the market and I suspect the McChurch will too for the forseeable future.  But the more we know about fast food the more we look for something a little more substantive and healthy.  Already people are looking for faith communities where the fare is deeper and healthier too.

An excerpt from The Gospel-Driven Church, 27 Theses

10. If the entirety of your churchy desires consists of filling a seat to experience a good service, you are not a congregant in a church but a consumer at a concert.

11. What you win people with is what you win them to. Win people with flash, spectacle, presentation, etc., and that’s what you win them to. Don’t be surprised if, like all consumers and what attracts them, they eventually get tired and move on to the next attraction. Don’t be surprised if, provided they remain, they continually request more, better, higher . . .

16. You cannot program a church into success. Programs are great, but they are applications. They are the “how” of doing church. Give up the tyranny of results and start with the “what” and “why” questions first.

Anyone have any thoughts about this?  What is your church like?  Can we expect any results other than what we are getting when the pressure to be attractive and get “win” people is greater than the pressure to introduce people to what it really means to follow Jesus?

Can market driven churches really be called The Church?


Entry filed under: Belief, Christianity, Church, Culture, Faith, Institutional church, Jesus, Thoughts that make me go "hmmm".

Fear of sharks. Monday morning meanderings. (Tuesday) Vol. 9

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Royal  |  August 26, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    The church that my wife and I attend is very good at passing on the word of God. They have various sermon styles to give different learning environments and have setup many classes to show how the church goes about teaching, missions, etc. I like this because they have put their statemen up front and have not deviated from it. That is until today. We went to church and there was a guest speaker who has written a book. The whole sermon seemed like a sales pitch. The speaker was supposedly well known, and very respected but all he did was continually return to how his book gave you direction on how you are supposed to act. He came off as very pompous and arrogant. The church made a mistake in having this person preach, but I will not give up because a few mistakes are made. The church is for God but run by humans and as we know very well, all humans make mistakes. I have faith that things will be corrected.

  • 2. BS  |  August 26, 2007 at 10:24 am

    i am all over #11
    ‘What you win people with is what you win them to.’
    it’s a challenge to provide atmospheres where students can engage with the living GOD [which is my heart] without the fear that they will be bored and move onto the next hyped ministry down the street because of the lack of ‘coolness’ …
    if we continue to offer up what’s cool and relevant [even though i really like cool and relevant] as the church, the church will do what it is already doing … die
    [i could talk about this issue for hours as you know dad]

    i say, back to the basics … being covered in the dust of our rabbi, JESUS.

  • 3. sumijoti  |  August 24, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    I am grateful that I can say my church isn’t market driven. It’s focus is on being followers and worshippers of Jesus, period. I think when that focus shifts, and it becomes about the program, or about what you can get out of church, or even about what great service you are doing to others, Jesus gets pushed aside and ends up outside the door, knocking.

  • 4. timglass  |  August 24, 2007 at 9:07 am

    We have a small but active parish. We’ve only been there about six months, so it’s still a bit of a mystery. People are different here. We moved to Iowa from Alabama, it’s been a bit of a culture shock. They are different, but friendly.
    But I think it’s more of personal problem; as in “me”. I just think so many times I fall short of loving God and loving my neighbor, because I choose to do something else, something selfish. If I acted in love more, maybe others would too. And if the others did that, maybe they would inspire even more.
    So maybe we’re more like the church in Ephesus, working hard but have lost the love we had at first. I would like to repent and return to Him.

    “Can market driven churches really be called The Church?”
    I don’t think so.


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