Marketing the Church

So I have been reading a book entitled ‘This Little Church Went to Market: Is the Modern Church Reaching Out of Selling Out (as mentioned in an earlier post during May 2007)?’ One of the things that the author (Gary Gilley) points out fairly early in his argument is that the church has moved from the perspective of worshiping God and teaching the elect, to entertaining those who go to church and bringing the unchurched in through various gimmics.

This appears to me to be a completely sound point. The focus of the truly godly churches throughout the ages has been on informed worship (in spirit and in truth), with a heavy focus on teaching true worshippers (those who are actually saved – the elect) about the God they are worshipping and what our response to Him should be (admittedly that is a simplistic summary).

What we have in the so-called churches of today is an increasingly market-driven approach in which it is necessary to out-entertain the world, in order to keep the world in the church (that is, those who are not saved, coming to church). Only this way can churches of today be considered successful. The emphasis is no longer on apostolic teaching, fellowship, prayer and the breaking of bread, but on those people ‘out there’ that we must get in here at almost any cost. So now we find that the church does ‘the world’ better than the world in many respects.

There was an Andrew Denton special on the ABC I think it was, just a week or so ago, in which he visited this major ‘Christian Convention’ in the United States. The mind can only boggle at what any intelligent person could be thinking when observing the amount of rubbish that is going under the name of ‘Christian worship and service’ these days. This picture of Christianity in America, did nothing for the true cause of Christ and his church, for those of the world watching such a program that accurately portrayed what was happening at the convention, can only be thinking, ‘what a bunch of wackos are these Christians!’ I was thinking it myself!!! One guy tried to show Andrew Denton the specks of glory on his hands that were reflections of the glory of God by virtue of him just being there – of course, Andrew Denton couldn’t see any of it, nor could the viewer – because it wasn’t there!

It is this sort of stupidity that has weakened the church in this day – yet in another sense the true church has not been weakened at all. As always, the remnant that is the true church of God endures, through all the difficulties that surround it and it will continue to do so until it is itself glorified and freed from all of this religion that has nothing to do with the true cause of Christ and his church.

Christian Confusion Collected

Today, on the way home from work, I decided to do a little shopping. So I went and bought this and then that. I then thought, ‘Well, I’m over this way I might as well pop into that new Christian bookshop and see what it is like.’

So I arrived and popped in for a look – it is quite a set-up. It is all very impressive and has a very well researched approach to marketing in the bookshop setting. This mob could sure teach some of the ‘more secular’ bookshops a thing or two about setting up a store to entice people in and to buy.

Then the moment of truth arrived – I began to wander (or is that ‘wonder’) among the bookshelves and view what was on offer. It didn’t take me long to think that here was a wonderful example of ‘Christian Confusion Collected.’ Is the person/persons/group behind this bookshop a Christian (or a group of Christians) or just a seller of books under the collective title of ‘Christian Books.’ Is this person Protestant or Roman Catholic, Evangelical or Liberal, Reformed or Arminian, Charismatic/Pentecostal or … ? The question has to be asked, because books of all types were here represented. Perhaps the title ‘Christian’ was enough to get a book on the shelves here.

In a short time I had found a book on Mother Teresa, one by Karl Marx and a whole host of other uncomfortably united authors – you could almost feel the tension as they each jostled for shelf space. There was Mother Teresa, warming herself by the fire of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, with all her innocence and saintly arraignment for all to see. What an odd group of fellows were some of these authors.

Alongside the foolish waste of natural resources that is the Purpose Driven Church, was a book entitled, ‘This little church went to market – Is the modern church reaching out or selling out (which I actually bought for a read).’ What an interesting juxtaposition there for all to see ~ one wonders if the incongruity of the two books was picked up by the one filling the shelves – yes, I agree, unlikely.

Then of course my mind turned to the customers – what a pious looking group of people, pontificating on the excellence of the goods on offer. I found myself relating more to the girl who couldn’t contain her amusement at some of the titles she saw lining the shelves – a fellow vulgar vagrant perhaps, not yet filled with the spirit of the place.

So to end my visit it was necessary to make my way past the various trinkets, obviously there for those customers with more indulgent tastes, figuring I had spent enough time in my present world purgatory and pay the bill for some other misfit occupants of the store – the book warning of the market driven approach to ‘church,’ a book on unconditional election and another on John Wyclif, who seemed to peer out from the cover of the book, seemingly embarrassed by being among those with whom he was sharing a shelf – perhaps it was time for John to re-establish Lollardism in another setting than that to which he was used to. Still, I had liberated these three books from their imprisonment and they were soon to join brethren of a similar mind in other shelves at another place where their fellowship would be much sweeter indeed.

Hugh Latimer - Burnt at the stake as described in Foxe's Book of Martyrs
ABOVE: Hugh Latimer … Burnt at the Stake Under Queen Mary
(As described in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)

To look at Foxe’s Book of Martyrs:
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs


I bought a book today called, ‘This little church went to market – Is the modern church reaching out or selling out?,’ by Gary Gilley. I haven’t read the book through yet of course, but I have read the introduction. In the introduction, Gilley makes some very pertinent comments regarding evangelism and the building up of the saint in the early church, briefly contrasting this example with that of today’s market-driven approach for success. It is a promising little book.