The title for this post was inspired by a quote I came across in John Z’s “Grace in Addiction” from a Franciscan Monk named Richard Rohr. In it he expresses frustration in sharing the sober viewpoint of Christianity with others. Rohr exclaims:
“How do you make attractive that which is not? How do you sell nonsuccess? How do you talk descent when everything is about ascent? How do you talk about dying to a church trying to appear perfect?”
Scripturally Rohr is spot-on. Christianity, and consequently the church, is not attractive (1 Corinthians 1:27-28 God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…); is not about success (John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.); is not about ascent to some higher plain (Philippians 2:5-7 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing…); and lastly is not about moral perfection but rather death to life (Luke 17:33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.).
So this brings me back to my original question, “Can (or should) a church be marketed?” The reason I keep coming back to this issue of “church marketing” (I’ve talked about it here, here, here, & here) is that it’s a pervasive issue and pressure for most American pastors. In a “holy” sense we’re called to reach out to nonbelievers and in a “practical” sense we need to keep the lights on and if everyone is either not going to church or going to that flashy marketed church down the street well you do the math…
In his post on a similar issue, Gospel Coalition Blogger Vermon Pierre writes:
“Promoting our churches is necessary if we want to grow and reach more people. But is there a way to bring less attention to ourselves and more glory to God?“
Following this Pierre offers some of his thoughts, but I want to hear yours. Can (or should) a church market itself? If it does, can it do it in a way that brings less attention to itself and more glory to God? Can a church advertise without presenting itself as a “whitewashed tomb”? Or, thinking back to Rohr’s quote, in marketing itself does the church have to present itself as something it is not?
I don’t know, just some thoughts and questions from an ever confused American Pastor. Can you help me out a bit…