Marketing the Church

“Marketing is something you do if your product is no good. Instead, you have to show something to people that they had no idea that they wanted but that was irresistible.” -Edwin Land (Inventor of Polaroid)

I came across this quote while reading an article about an upcoming book on Polaroid. It peaked my interest because of how straight forward the statement is, and immediately made me think of the modern strategy of most churches to gain influence in communities. I have studied church planting extensively over the last 10 years, and in most cases and in many traditional guides to getting a church started the need for marketing comes up. So many church planters look to have the best mailers, billboards, websites, Facebook pages, etc… they can find. Don’t hear me wrong, none of these things are inherently evil (a church that I help to lead uses some of these mediums to keep people informed of what we are doing in our community), but sometimes they replace things that they should not.

In many cases we look to entice people by something that is substandard in light of the Gospel. We think that if we can give them something pretty to look at or draw them in with a clever catch phrase then they can walk through the doors of a building and hear the Gospel proclaimed by a clergyman, but as I look at the spiritual landscape of the west I am concerned with how ineffective that really is.

When I think about the quote from Land I immediately think of the Gospel being the very thing that people don’t realize they wanted, but is wildly irresistible. See our command if we are Christ followers, disciples if you will, is to make other disciples. It is to take this good news of the Fathers redemptive work through the cross and resurrection that has all the potency to see the church flourish. In fact I believe that Jesus has given us everything that we need to see the church expand in the power of the Holy Spirit. The question is though do we as a broader community of Christ believe that?

I have been recently challenged by how little I rely on the power of the Spirit to change the world, the power of the Gospel to bring peace to madness and comfort to sadness. I have seen that if we really love God and love people that the natural expression of that is a life saturated in the Gospel and lead by the Spirit of God. When those two things collide, and they must collide, it is an unstoppable force. So why then dose the church rely on its clever marketing strategies to fill buildings? I believe by the tone of the conversations I hear, and the books I read is that we don’t believe the Gospel is as powerful as the scriptures declare.

Our call then must be to return to ancient new realities, posture ourselves in similar submissive ways to the teachings of Jesus and engage the world in the power of the Gospel through the mighty spirit of God. Living lives that demand the Gospel as an explanation, and we must put away the peddling of mediocre goods and services attached to the name of Jesus. We have been called to so much more that what we have a tendency to be, and we have been given the power to reach our potential because we have the power of God living inside of us.

Jesus is enough, the Gospel has power and the Spirit will lead us to build a church that magnifies our Father.


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