The Irrelevance of Marketing Church Relevance


The church in America is losing its way; as a result, the church in America is in decline.

This particular Sunday—yesterday—we went to a different church because I had three of my children, who are part of a school choir singing at a different church. So I heard a guest pastor. He was talking about the fact that in America today 4000 churches are closing their doors every year. As a result of that, the church needs to become, at least in his opinion, more and more relevant. If we don’t become more and more relevant, we’re going to lose people. If you’re counting nickels and noses, that’s not a good thing! So we have to employ all kinds of edgy marketing campaigns.

A recent pastor series was touted by this moniker, “What happens when God gets between the sheets,” or another, “How to use your life in such a way that it has relevance when you live with idiots and morons?” The marketing campaigns have to become increasingly slick, and we have to become more and more like the culture, because if we don’t we’re going to lose members.

The reality is something far different than that. The way the church grows is when the church embraces basics. This happens when the church unpacks the Word of God, when a pastor under the unction of the Holy Spirit wrestles with the biblical text, and then on Sunday morning unpacks a feast; when the parishioners themselves participate in worship through prayer, praise, and the proclamation of the Word of God; when the parishioners are involved in oneness, using their time, talent and treasure for the building up of the body; when every believer is equipped to share the Gospel and experiences the Holy Spirit moving through them in the process of reaching, touching, impacting, and transforming the world.

I fear the problem today is that the pastor is trying to do the work of ministry all by himself, and as he loses traction and steam, he has to use edgy marketing campaigns to get people to come. The real solution is to recognize that the pastor is the coach, preparing people to be involved in the most significant enterprise known to man, who are touching people with the Gospel, producing reproducing disciple makers, extending the kingdom of God—not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit. The church in America is losing its way, and as a result, the church in America is in decline.

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