Saturday, October 04, 2008

Mission and Market

I've started using twitter again... I tried it when it first came out... thought it was a waste of time... we'll see now.Leonard Sweet, recently said something interesting on Twitter
…musing about how I am SO tired of the church viewing the world more as a market than as a mission.
There has been a lot of digital ink spilled over terms like emerging / emergent / missional. I wonder [heck, I more than wonder... I am convinced!] that while a lot of churches use the language of mission, the church really sees the world as a market and other churches as competitors. We need to get our fair share... we need to position ourselves in the market... we need to do market research... we need to get more customers.

What a load of bunk. That is not the church. That is not what the kingdom of God is about.


Scott said...

But aren't we told to go into the world and preach the gospel to all nations? Preaching to me is a form of marketing - Communicating a message with the intent of trying to have someone believe in your message.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not taking anything away from being missional and I realize that the modern church has often failed in this regard, I just think we need to be careful to not forget that we have a message to share.

If a church can reach more customers and bring new christians into the fold isn't that a good thing?

As for the competition between churches, I see the problem but I'm not so sure of the solution.

Would it be better for a church to hire a worship leader that sings off key and tell their teaching pastor not to prepare for Sunday? Then everyone could sit through their horrible service together on Sunday and feel self righteous that they are not falling in the marketing trap of trying to compete with the other churches in town.

But then again would they really just be using their self righteousness as a marketing tactic?

Needless to say I think one can stand on the sides and find fault with any church. Maybe rather than doing that we'd better just getting down to business and preaching the gospel and being missional in our communities.

Tou and David said...

Scott, I appreciate that you are thinking about this and that you are committed to the idea that the church should try to do something to reach the community. And you are right.

However, there is a fundamental difference between missions and marketing. Mission is to reach people for Christ so they will be redeemed and brought into the family of God. Marketing is trying to get as many people as you can to buy your product.

When we "market" our church services, we are essentially competing for folks who are "church shopping." That is, there are a number of people out there who are looking for a good church to go to, and we try to get them to choose us instead of choose them. (Just like Coke tries to get people to choose Coke over choosing Pepsi--or, to compare it to campaigning--just like McCain tries to get people to choose him over choosing Obama.) The problem with this is that these people are going to end up at a church one way or another, whether or not it is us or them.

So, in this sense, we are not really expanding God's kingdom, but instead we are simply expanding our own little kingdoms. Most churches are completely satisfied with this if their own little kingdoms are large enough to bring them prestige and significant offerings.

But what can a church do to reach those who ARE NOT looking for a church--people that, if we don't reach them, no one will. How do we reach them?

Marketing is trying to get people to choose one product over another product. Mission is trying to get people simply to choose, whether it is our product or theirs--it's all Jesus.

But Mission is also more than simply "reaching people." Mission is also helping people. It is about loving them the way God would have us love them.

You see, we are addicted to this idea that the church offers "services." Where did that come from? I understand meetings, but what is a "church service"? Really--think about it. God's church is a community, not a service. We should be active in SERVING and not offering SERVICES. A "service" should not be the focal point of our churches. If it is, then we are missing the point.

mike said...

good comments
I think we often market church so that we get the right type of people... but mission is about the people who God brings into our area of influence or who God sends us out into an area... it's often not the "right" people, but it's one's who need a saviour... seems to me that Jesus said something like that.
Yes, we need to communicate clearly, effectively, in a way that the other can hear, but not in any way treating them as a product