Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Musing on Church Growth Strategies

I keep wondering what would happen if the flyer (see "Church Flyer," posted 9/28) advertised Jesus in the same way it advertised the pastor. What would it say?

TWO THOUSAND YEAR CHAMPION OVER ALL YOUR SICKNESSES
PROVEN CURE FOR DEPRESSION
WHO'S WHO AMONG DOCTORS
WORLD RECORD FOR RAISING PEOPLE FROM THE DEAD


I'm not advocating this as an effective method for getting people in your door for church. If anything, I think the new church in town will get more people in the door with the football angle. Althought I doubt they will be a very desperate demographic and it seems like, in the Bible anyway, the desperate people were the ones who got healed the most. Not that Jesus isn't madly in love with the football fans.

I was talking to a pastor recently about different church growth strategies. His friend has a church where people get healed all the time. You'd think that would be an effective church growth strategy--cancer cured in a church service?? But he says his friend's church is not "seeker friendly." The pastor of that church readily admits people walk in and walk out because, along with the healings are all these other odd-looking things happenign in the church, like bodies splayed out along the aisles in worship before the service even starts, and, I imagine, people whooping and hollering.

Still, I can't help but believe that the power of the Gospel could speak for itself. Wouldn't healings at the mall, at Wal-Mart, at the park be sufficient introduction to Jesus? Wouldn't that be better than door prizes and gimmicky slogans for getting people into church?

Is the only reason we're working so hard on church growth strategies because we've lost the power of the gospel? Whatever power those first century church Christians had we've seen only glimpses of. But wherever the glimpses are in the world, those are the places church programs and slogans become irrelevant because the Gospel is speaking for itself.

The other thing is the Church is currently operating on such a top-down model: get people to church, then introduce them to Jesus. In the old days, people met Jesus and then they were the church.

2 comments:

ph0rman said...

It does often seem that people with "church growth strategies" are using "man's" wisdom, rather than God's wisdom.

I did have the interesting experience this past Sunday of hearing: "What we need are more churches, because people get saved by going to church."

While I know the man loves God deeply, it clearly doesn't always keep him from the influences of his own, human, warped, thinking.

H.W. said...

It's easy on us when people get saved by coming to church. Truly, it is. I mean, it all happens on our turf, our environment. We don't risk a whole lot. We are not the ones going into a new place.

Maybe that's why everybody's doing these new programs. They know that straight up Jesus talk isn't going to bring someone to church. Maybe the idea is to turn the contemporary church model into something unbelievers will want to go to regardless/in spite of the Jesus content. Make church the new Children's Museum, the new ice skating rink, new bar, new coffee shop in town and people will come. And through building relationships with them, we might tell them about Jesus?

If that's what it is, then I don't think we can have both the worship/teaching/prayer aspects and the social evangelism aspects all combined in one event venue. I think the church wants it both ways--have our cake and eat it too: Stay in the safety of our walls, worship how we want, pray how we want, talk our churchy language that no one outside could possibly understand AND we want something super attractive with great "cool factor" to get unbelievers in the door.

I just don't think it can work both ways.

I'm all befriending those who don't know Christ, getting involved in their lives. But I think we're trying to kill two birds with one stone when it comes to the official methods of our churches.