The Church Becomes Big Business

I have often said something like “if coca-cola applied the same rules to it’s marketing as the church everyone would drink pepsi”.  However, the opposite side of the coin seems to be equally ridiculous.  When the Church becomes big business and we head down the route of the Mega-Church we find that people stop mattering and become just a number… and sort code…

I can’t help recalling the time I saw an American style ‘graduation ceremony’ at a mega-church for people who had passed the ‘course’ in leadership.  Each of the 83 candidates trotted up replete with mortar board and gown.  We were proudly told that the candidates had completed such tasks as “carpark duty” and “maintainance” throughout the year.  Each candidate gave a little speech about how blessed they had been and eventually confetti rained down upon us as hats were thrown in the air.  Later we were informed that we too could be blessed like this.  “If you want to realise the potential that God has for you, sign up for this today.  Next year you too could be standing on this stage and all it costs is £1300”!

You may do a double take here.  I did.  £1300 so that God will bless you??!!??

So why do I think these thoughts today?  It is reported that Rupert Murdoch’s company Fox Digital Media has bought beliefnet.  My question is why?  Clearly there is money to be made in faith but surely that is not the purpose.  Is this the start of something else?

On a different note, the Church Advertising Network have put together another interesting campaign to promote Jesus at Christmas.  The whole thing invites people to go to their site second chance life.  It looks like a really interesting idea.

So here is my dilemma, caught between the rock and the hard place.  Church without some form of decent marketing is likely to die.  Without Jesus though, all we are left with is the marketing.  I guess we need to find a happy medium between the two.


5 Responses

  1. Act 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
    Act 2:47 Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

    It is not our job to market the church. It is our job to “abide in the vine” for apart from Him, we can do nothing.

  2. I think my point was that “abiding in the vine” people have to do something. Mega-hurches concentrate on marketing everything down to the finest detail. They prosper and grow but sometimes they grow into something unrecognisable when compared to Christ.
    Smaller churches sometimes bung a sign on the noticeboard outside on a piece of luminous card with a trite message written in stencil – spelled wrongly. They tend to die out shut down and leave us in a situation where we have nothing to compare to christ.
    I guess when this is all stripped down it all comes down to the Arminian-Calvinist debate.

  3. Didn’t Jesus also mention going into the four corners of the earth to take the gospel message to all peoples? How can we do that if we just sit together in an old building that no-one else wants to come into? I agree that our life as a church community is extrememly important, especially as so many people accuse Christians of being hypocrites, but we also have to find new ways of taking the gospel into our apathetic and disinterested society. If we don’t tell them about Jesus, who will?

  4. Arrrgh the arminian – calvaist debate! i recently started off an argument about that while talking about something which was supposed to be unrelated!

    Robb i can remember talking about some of this marketting stuff in one of our lectures where we changed worship. I think it was in response to Pete Ward’s book ‘Selling worship’ or something. might look at the notes on tht at some point.

    and it’s all very well saying we ‘abide in the vine’ but lets face it in a lot of places the church represents a pretty crappy vine

    I reckon Jesus was pretty good at using the media of the day. he always seems to know what people are saying about him and reacts accordingly. i think as a church we need to be that media/marketting savvy too.

    linked in with all this if enough people ask me about it i might do a blog about being asked to be n big brother this year!

  5. It is very dangerous to put yourself in Big Brother mate. The cameras show the interesting bits rather than the real bits. Lets face it, the popular view of Christians is that they are ‘perfect’ not that they are ‘forgiven’.

    It is true that the church often does a good job of putting people off meeting Jesus. I think I may buy a copy of ‘Selling Worship’ and have a read. Needless to say I have slept once or twice in the last couple of years and information tends to drop out of my head at that point 😀

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