The Absurdity of Marketing the Church
There never seems to be a lack of examples of (the oxymoronic) "humanistic church". Below is one which rose to "notable mention" in those items such as
- the "church" which advertised a sermon series on the Marvel Comics, and
- the "church" which advertised a Judo competition.
Below is another excellent example of something which brings shame to the name of the Lord Christ and is an embarrassment to true Christians.
I received in the mail (Mar 2023) the following advertisement (front and back).
[I speculate that nearly every one of my readers has received something similar many times (at least if you live within the locale of larger cities). Since I live near Dallas, TX, I receive these frequently.]
I scanned it to be able to present it on SolaScripturaToday. I added the red outlines around elements that I mention in the very short discussion below.
In the early days of the church in Jerusalem, the church was generally viewed favorably by the unconverted Jews of their day:
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
That view began to deteriorate (at least slowly and cautiously) just a short time later, after the events surrounding Ananias and Sapphira—namely, their being put to death by the LORD for their sin of lying to the Holy Spirit (Act 5.3). Those deaths had a profound effect on the Jews in Jerusalem:
But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.
The LORD had demonstrated that it was serious business to turn to His son and name Him as LORD! Shortly afterward, though, the situation collapsed entirely, initiated by the stoning of Stephen:
Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.
And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Nearly none of our "modern" churches understand—or even believe—that this state of the early church (persecution) is the normal, not the exceptional. Instead, they work frantically to supplement their fundamentally deficient perspective of the Gospel and the glory of the LORD in salvation. They turn to marketing and slick, four-color, full bleed flyers mass-mailed to the locales around their "churches". They proclaim how wonderful it would be to attend their church; moreover, they promise "Free Family Photos" and "A Free Gift for Singles or Couples"(!).
What really caught my attention, though, was the "Popup Church", held, apparently, at the Westin Hotel in Frisco—just for singles! I'm at a loss to figure out what this is, but more importantly, why it is. I suppose the meeting of the saints at any of the Plano, Prosper, Lewisville, Garland or Dallas campuses were simply not adequate for a meeting place for lost singles? How is this possible?
The backside of the flyer makes it clear that the marketing draw is the Carnival. Here, we learn that the purveyors of this unholy fanfare will host "Interactive Games", and provide to the attendees "Suprises" and "Prizes". We're assured that it will be "Fun for the whole family!". [emphasis mine]
What's not to like? (#SARC)
Then, as if it wasn't a sufficiently large affront already to the glory of the Lord Christ and His work in redemption, and a slighting of His resurrection, they are hosting the requisite "Easter Egg Hunt"! How is it even possible not to regard this as unmitigated arrogance and unbelief? It is the unholy substitution of the day dedicated to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Christ with a child's celebration based on an animal and a copious amount of chocolate!
On the right side of the flyer, we have three testimonials (by the pastors of The Change Church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, and Lakepointe Church).
Dr. Daniels (Change Church) makes a comment which makes me cringe:
"Pastor Conway's [the Pastor of ONE Community Church] ability to break down the Word of God in practical and relevant ways is exactly what the world needs now." [emphasis mine]
Dr. Daniels, since you appear to view this as a valuable trait, please tell me where the Word of God is either "impractical" or "irrelevant"! Can you identify even a single, needless verse in the more than 30,000 verses in the Bible? Do you even hear what you've espoused? Moreover, exactly what "world" is it that needs this "practical" approach, in contrast to the unadulterated and unfiltered Word of God (which should be preached and taught)? What happened to "good old fashioned" Bible exposition? And don't try to tell me this is "break[ing] down the Word of God"; it is not. You've already ruled that out with your dual, foolish assertions of the "relevant" and "practical" methodology.
Dr. Evans' (Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship) testimonial follows a different track:
"At this church, you will be a part of a community where the unchurched love to attend ..."
In my article, The Essential/Non-Essential Doctrine Debacle, I show from the Scripture that a church is the group of those saved persons who are of "one mind". I can, therefore, make a couple of valid observations about Dr. Evans' assertion:
- If the "community" to which he refers is, in fact, the ONE church, then it is impossible for it to be a group which has the requisite "oneness of mind" commanded by the LORD. (That is, the saved and lost can never be of one mind.) It is a gathering of disparate people, to be sure, but it is not a valid "Bible church"!
- If the "unchurched love to attend", and if this is an accurate assertion, then the "church" (presumably, again, the ONE church for which the testimonial is offered) is not really a church: it is a religious social club. It can't be otherwise.
The Lord Christ made this clear centuries ago:
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
How many modern churches attempt to rewrite this unchangeable truth with their choreographed preaching, slick marketing, live bands, high-tech light shows, in-house latte bars and bagels, dimly lit assemblies (presumably to make the gathering more "inviting" and less threatening) and so on. The true gospel is offensive and humbling; it demands real, life-changing repentance and a life-long dedication to the Lord Christ.
There is no other option. No marketing effort in the world can ever change this truth.
1 Cor 3.10-15
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
The Day is here. Judgment stands ready.
1 Pet 4.17
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?