|Back from a lengthy sabbatical due to health issues. Bleh. Anyway... a little something to read about churches, how to market your church, and my own opinion on how this has gotten somewhat out of hand because, well, I think we're missing the point of what the Church is supposed to be about anyway.
The Value Principle
A marketing professor holds an item up in the air and asks his class, "what's this item worth?" His students suggest one dollar, ten dollars, three hundred, and so on. The professor's response surprises them. "Well, you're all wrong." He sees the class show their frustration and finally says, "The item is worth whatever someone will pay me for it." He then explains to them that this is universally true with any product. Published on Friday, February 13, 2009 @ 2:23 PM CST
Make sense? It's like when you hear someone say "All you're paying for in that product is the name." An expensive car, a set of golf clubs, a purse, or cosmetics—we try to justify these purchases but most of the time we're buying the name or the style. Sometimes the product truly is different and really more valuable but sometimes it's just the packaging that gets us. Sometimes it's the sense of belonging.
So here's my question… what do people perceive about the worth of your church? How much are they willing to "pay" for the product? In their minds, is church worth not sleeping late on a Sunday morning? Now, remember, man looks on the outside, so they don't always see the amazing product that we're actually providing—they think they are paying for the package that it's coming in. How do we make church valuable to them?
From the blog Beyond Relevance
Now, here's where my two-cents comes in. This is what irks me. I get the whole "sense of belonging" and "searching" and "reaching out..." But we always are waiting for Them to come to Us. Christ didn't do that. He went out. And things were a little different, too. Religion was different. The state was different. Saying Jesus was Lord and G-d was considered heresy as well as treason; it would land you in jail because Caesar was Lord (and a god). That was his title. It would be similar to refusing to address the President with his official title and instead addressing someone else as such. And revering that individual with presidential power. Ok, enough history......
In this day and age -- and by that, I mean the past 100+ years -- we have been "marketing" Christ. As a product. You go to church. You say the right words. You "receive" eternal life. You "get" the product of Jesus. Pray and receive a different response than the one others expect. Read the Bible and learn the future; discover the past right there in black and white... all like some mystical crystal ball. Exchange of tender or product in anticipation for receipt of goods and services. Basic concepts of capitalism. Gone was the thought of wrestling with the Scriptures as the ancient rabbis once did, being captivated by the words instead of trying to captivate and understand each concept.
We sell Christ as a commodity like a car or toothpaste that will change your family, your workplace, your career. There are promises that you'll live a better life, become happier, have less worries and troubles, maybe get more money ("blessings"), all backed up with biblical verses or studies or testimonies. (I for one will tell you this is all a Great Lie. You will experience nothing but loss. Be prepared to lose everything; you must if you are to die to self. Now a sense of peace, contentment, and joy -- which is NOT happiness -- that I do agree with.) A great sense of individualism also sets in, which permeates the American culture. It is how we are -- strong, rugged, can-do attitudes, pioneering spirits. However, it also starts to isolate. This, I believe, is the reason more and more people -- individuals -- see the Church as merely church and as "their church." It's hard to be the Body of Christ -- the Bride -- with so many little bridezillas parading around. There has been a small revival that began around 5-10 years ago and is starting to catch fire -- I'm not talking about the nearly defunct Emergent Movement, but it was a catalyst. It looks at the teachings of Christ historically, contextually, and questions how Christianity is being "sold" now.
One of my favorite quotes is from Shawn Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution: "Christ is coming back for a Bride, not a harem." This is one of the things I keep in the forefront of my mind when I deal with difficult people and also when people ask me why I still attend church: Because I'm still a part of It and because, for some reason, I can't give up on It yet. (I haven't been told it's an option. Really.)
Labels: christian, marketing, religion, spirituality