It seems as if there is almost no limit to what I can have.Â Many in our population can remember when it was a big deal to have one TV and one car. Now there are more TVâ€™s in our home than people and we donâ€™t have a clue how many channels we have.
Your phone sat on an end table or hung on the wall, not your belt and it wasnâ€™t smart.Â Going out to eat was an event or an occasion.Â Now the opposite is true.Â The question, where do you want to eat, seldom includes home as a choice.
We can purchase whatever we want, anytime we want; even in our pajamas.Â We donâ€™t even have to have enough money to buy it, or even any money for that matter.Â If we donâ€™t like something or simply get tired of it, we donâ€™t think twice about throwing it away and replacing it with a new one.
I went on a mission trip to the rain forest in Peru years ago.Â To get to the mission station in the rain forest required a ten hour bus ride up and over the mountains from the coast and down again into the rain forest.Â Needless to say the further we travelled the more we were immersed into simplicity and poverty.Â Some hours into the ride we stopped at a â€œPeruvian highlands Rest Areaâ€.Â It would be best described as a small general store along the side of the road; something you would might see in the early 20th century in rural America.
Our mission team, all from America descended upon that little store like flies on a piece of chicken left sitting on a picnic table in July. Sitting on the bus as we got ready to head out again I was so struck by the contrast between those of us on the mission team and the nationals at the store.Â I wondered what they must think of us.Â We purchased whatever we wanted and consumed it as if we had not eaten in days.
We have choices in every area and we expect nothing different from our church.Â We consume our religion just like we do everything else.
So now it becomes time to go shopping.Â What does the church have to offer my children?Â Is there an active childrenâ€™s ministry?Â Are the teens active and doing lots of interesting things?Â How big is the childrenâ€™s department or the teen group?Â Â We have become so clichÃ© that we even have our own terminology.Â Notice how the children are part of a department but teens are a group, when in essence they are the exact same thing â€“ some measured number of people in a certain age range.Â Is the department or group too big, too small?Â What are the qualifications of the leader or staff?Â These days we have staff rather than disciples.
And the response from Pastors and church leaders desperate for attendance and membership is to try and satisfy those desires.Â Marketing is bigger than ever in the church.
.And what exactly are we marketing?Â What is the product of the church?Â The answer that seems most righteous and holy to us is â€œJesus is the product.â€ Really?Â How can the one who is supposed to be our Lord be a product that we offer to others?Â How did we come to be in control of Jesus that we might offer Him as a product?
If Jesus is not our product then what is?Â What are we marketing?Â We market our church.Â Some years ago while driving I noticed a church van.Â The van had the name of the church and then of course their slogan underneath.Â The slogan said, â€œThe church where you will be loved.â€Â Finally, I had found the church where I would be loved.Â See, as the slogan insinuates, at the other churches I was not loved.Â But at this church I would be loved.Â As far as they were concerned this is what they had to offer to get you to try them out.
Other churches may offer an exciting teen group.Â Some may offer lively, exciting music.Â A lot of churches are telling us that we can experience God if we come there â€“ whatever that means.
We bring our boards together and we discuss strategies.Â One of the first things we do is write our mission and vision statements.Â These are done so we can focus on what our strengths are.Â Â I have been to meeting after meeting where it is stated that the church canâ€™t be a supermarket so we have to be a specialty shop.Â What this means is that we have to identify what it is we are good at and start focusing on those things so we can effectively reach people.Â From that we can develop our marketing strategy.Â Does that sound like a business strategy to anyone other than me?Â And that is exactly what we get, a business strategy.Â That is why the church all too often looks like a business.
But the church was never meant to be a business.Â Jesus tells His disciples that He would build His church, not us.Â The body of Christ is not something man can build.Â It is different than any organization in the world.