Marketing the Church

We are living in a time when outward success is preferred over faithfulness; when size is more diligently sought after that genuine commitment; when theology takes a back seat to methodology; when preaching the Gospel gives way to drama, special music and pop psychology; when pragmatism transcends sound biblical teaching; when poor doctrine is tolerated but a long sermon is not; when a sermon is judged, not by its content, but by the way it makes you feel; when the sermons are more fluff than substance; and when God must be packaged delicately if He is to be sold to today’s very discriminating consumer.

We are living in a time when levity is preferred in the pulpit over rebuke, when worship must be more rollicking than reverent, when sophistication is more sought after than humility, when society has greater influence than the word of God, when the accommodating people in sinful lifestyles is called “ministry” and rebuking them is called “legalism,” and when church members are more familiar with the “12 steps to recovery” than they are with the “5 steps to salvation.”

What a state of affairs! Oh, how far we have traveled down the winding treacherous road of pragmatism (if it seems to work for the moment, never-mind whether it’s scriptural). Why have so many churches taken this detour? Why do we find ourselves struggling with these issues today?

I believe it is because we have forgotten just who it is that is sovereign. Somehow we have bought into the marketing strategy that says, “The consumer is always right.” Thus, our primary concern has shifted from pleasing God to pleasing the masses. Therefore, we hear the continual cry for the need for change, for as man’s needs change so must the church. This is the reason that worship services are becoming more entertainment oriented. This is the reason for the preoccupation with the length of services. And this is the reason more and more faithful Christians are complaining about never hearing the plain, straightforward, distinctive preaching they used to hear.

John MacArthur, in describing this situation in his book, Ashamed of the Gospel, stated: ‘Almost nothing is dismissed as inappropriate: rock-n-roll oldies, disco tunes, heavy metal, rap, dancing, comedy, clowns, mime artists and state magic have all become a part of the evangelical repertoire. In fact, one of the few things judged out of place in church theses days is clear and forceful preaching.”