Marketing versus ministry

     How do you grow a church?  That depends upon what is meant by growth.  If all that is meant is an increase in numbers then a good marketing campaign coupled with plenty of on site fireworks should do the trick.  Increasingly, there is a spirit of competition developing in the realm of church life.  I was talking to a friend in another city who lamented that his congregation had been almost drained of members by a nearby church with strong marketing techniques and strong audio visual presentations along with a very witty and charismatic message from the pastor.  This scenario is repeated all around America today including our own community.  For many years churches have used a variety of methods to try to reach unreached young people.  Many of those methods have been very much out of the “attractional model”.  For my own part, I believe that occasional events that have a particular appeal to unchurched persons is part of the package of reaching people.  However, I strongly object to the notion that future leaders in the work of God can be produced by a highly attractional and sensational model of ministry.  Sooner or later it comes down to ministry.  The pastors of a local church must not only provide the big group experiences for a congregation, they must also model personal ministry before the congregation.  Individual members need to have face time and personal conversations with spiritual leaders.  Members need to be engaged in personal witnessing and work alongside their pastors in reaching others.  Missions experiences need to happen in which high profile leaders can be seen hammering, digging, sweating, and sharing right alongside the members of the church.  People in need, people in trouble, and people in sorrow need to experience the personal touch of those who lead them.  One need look no further than the example of Jesus to see that no matter how great the charisma before the many, it is the ministry to just one person that reveals the true nature of the leader.  Jesus walked slowly through the crowds.  He was reachable and touchable.  Whatever might have been said about Him, it could not be said that He was unavailable.  It is exhausting to be available to large numbers of people.  Some today complain that it is just not efficient.  What matters most is that it is Christlike.  What do you think?

Dan Wooldridge

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