Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The "Event"

In the previous posts of the ongoing excerpts of my DMin paper, I outlined some of the problems experienced by the church today and of the changing of our culture that makes the Christendom attractional and extractional model of church increasingly irrelevant to the people of this culture. Good programs and targeted marketing is not sufficient to make church interesting to a culture that is now at least a generation away from Christian teaching and typical church practices (like Sunday school, Bible studies or prayer meetings). Again this is not to say that Christianity has become irrelevant! That is my whole point! We have adopted a form of godliness that in many ways has lost its power - because it once did have power. The question really is where do we go from here? That's the point of the next section of the paper - we go forward into the future by learning from the past and listening to the Spirit. (Actually the next post will contain the next section of the paper - this post is getting quite long already).

Interestingly enough there are many who continue to strongly advocate for the attractional marketing model of church. In the previous post I mentioned Bill Hinon's series on Marketing the Church. In the comments section of one of those posts a guy named Nathan argues (at length) the benefits of attractional ministry.

Just a sample.

"Church marketing, that is nothing more than telling people (in whatever manner) about your church, what your church is about, and what your church can offer (salvation, fellowship, children's ministry, etc.) can result in new members, and not just new members by way of another church (shuffle). I'm talking about growing the church via baptistm, not theft. You seem to believe that the church cannot do so without resulting in lazy consumer christians. I'm here to say that the only way you get lazy Christians is through lazy service preparation and preaching."

My response to that is there are many people who will not come into church in the first place - no matter how good the marketing or how many personal invitations there are. Secondly, the product we are offering is not usually something people think they need - especially in the form we present it. This is not because everyone presents it poorly (some do but many present this "exciting church" product well). It is because the megachurch model is basically an entertainment model. A large group of people gathered to see and hear professionals perform. It's like a play, a concert or a movie. People will come to see it when they sense a need (like at Easter or Christmas) but won't make it a regular habit because they think it's the same thing over and over again. Only weirdo's go to the same movie over and over again.

The other thing is that the real event is not just the movie - it is the series of events connected with it. Meeting friends, going out for dinner, seeing the movie, having drinks afterward or going to someone's house to continue the connecting. The megachurch model tries to make church the complete experience instead of only part of the experience. We need to see that the real connecting happens before and after the event. The event is only an excuse to get together and no matter how good it is, the event itself is rarely the best part of an evening together with friends or a loved one.

Church was never intended to be about the event. Church was never about coming to a place where you could learn things or see things. Church is about where two or three are gathered Christ is in the midst of them. Church is about the connecting and learning and journeying together.

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