The other day as I was driving I saw a billboard advertisement for a new church. The sign simply stated the name of the church and the words, “Not your mama’s church.” At first I chuckled but then as I began thinking about the implications an unsettled feeling came over me.
I had to wonder, what was wrong with my mama’s church? The church my mama took me to was full of godly men and women who taught me what it meant to be a disciple of Christ. They showed me with their lives how to live wholeheartedly for the kingdom. They gave up their precious nights and weekends to serve the Lord at events meant to reach children and young people for Christ. Church wasn’t a product to be marketed it was what they gave their lives to because of what Christ had done for them.
This marketing approach left me feeling disturbed because it gave off the impression that a church has to take on certain distinctives in order to be effective. I wondered what those distinctives might be; better music, more coffee and donuts, a more engaging communicator?
Those aren’t necessarily bad things but if we were honest with ourselves we’d realize we’ve been drinking a little bit of the church growth Kool-Aid over the last four decades. And what have we gotten for all the excellence of this church growth movement? Statistics tell us that there really aren’t more Americans attending church than there were four decades ago. So what have we gained? Maybe the problem isn’t the church but rather our bad theology related to it.
Yes, we are meant to enjoy fellowship and the praises of our Lord in the church now but the church itself was never meant as a product to be marketed. The church is the representation of the gathering work of Christ as he draws people to himself. You and I are the means and the gathering on the other side is the end. It’s not about producing a better product for our consumption; it’s about seeing more people together with him later on. This is the work to which we should enjoin ourselves; not the marketing of a product to be delivered in the here and now.
Too often our marketing of the church only reveals our bad theology. Scripture speaks very clearly about what the church ought to be. We weren’t meant to offer the world a better product, we were meant to offer Jesus Christ to the world. And nothing is more needed by this hurting world than a Savior who offered himself to poor helpless sinners in need of a work greater than themselves. No narrative would be more desirable to this broken world than the greatest love a person could know. That’s what is needed as the answer to what ails this sick world. Let us not forget that while we were still lustful, racist, coveting, prideful sinners a loving God sent his son to die for us. Plain and simple Jesus is the answer for the world today. That’s theology you can hang your hat on.
Mark 16:15 (NLT) And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.
Too often our marketing of the church only reveals our bad theology. Scripture speaks very clearly ab