Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oh please, please, please, won't you come? We'll give you ice cream!

I just got the mail at my house. I received the above enlarged glossy post card invitation from a newer church that has started in my immediate neighborhood. The church has been meeting at a junior high school right around the corner from my house. I'm sure it's part of a mass mailing targeting the entire zip code. There are a number of similar churches doing the same thing within a 5 mile radius of my house. Most schools around here have newer churches meeting in their auditoriums each Sunday.

I'm all for the planting of new churches, it's the way so many new churches are marketing themselves that causes me abdominal pain.
On the front of the postcard is declared - "Sweet Summer" with the name of the church below in smaller print. In the upper right corner there is a promise that all first time guests will receive a free Dairy Queen Blizzard! There is also the promise that "Kidz Blitz" will entertain the entire family, I guess during the service.
My favorite part of this advertisement is the description of the "sermon" (a word not actually used to describe the teaching time during the service), I'll change the pastor's name:
"We are starting our new series called 'Sweet Summer' where every week Pastor John will use your favorite sweet treats to teach spiritual truths. All in attendance will get a tasty treat throughout the series. We invite you to come and experience God's Word in a new and exciting way at XYZ Church."
Oh man....


Frontier Forest said...

I don’t suppose this style of “sweet and savory” outreach is exactly what Paul is referring to when he revealed his thoughts on liberty. “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I many by all means save some. And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I many become a fellow-partaker of it.” I Corinthians 9:22-23
“For I am determined to now nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” I Corinthians 2:2

Nathan said...

So...We serve Holy Communion every week all year round! Keep your stinking ice cream, give me Jesus!

Andrew Malloy said...

This is interesting from their church website:

On their belief of the Holy Spirit:

We believe that at the point of salvation the Holy Spirit fills each believer to be a source of strength, assurance, and wisdom. Every believer has available to them a distinct and subsequent experience as promised by the Father know as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit which is evidenced by speaking in a heavenly prayer language as the Spirit gives utterance. [1 Corinthians 2:9-14; 6:19-20, Matthew 3:11, Acts 2:4, 38-39]

Weird, most churches like this usually just do not talk about speaking in tongues and such. This church must have a bold pastor (but not bold enough).

Lyle Burton said...

Hey, we'll give 'em hot dogs, hamburgers, and baked beans during the summer. This is obviously a lot more substantial than just ice cream. Now, if you can just work out a way to teach spiritual truths with hot dogs, potato salad, and cole slaw, we can get busy sending out those post cards! :-)

jeff said...

I'm going to be very careful how I word this response, because, let's face it, I really don't "know" you guys, and you don't really "know" me. So, please don't read into anything I write beyond what my words say. I have gained a lot of respect for your church and for your tomato-lovin' pastor, and if we lived out in KS, we'd be checking out your church for sure.

Personally, I cringe when I hear people in the church speaking in marketing terms. (Don't forget, I was raised in an Orthodox Presbyterian Church). I personally can't stand some of the new church-speak I hear, ie. "worship experience" instead of Service, "auditorium" instead of Sanctuary, etc.

However, before making any kind of judgement on this new church, I would have to ask myself some questions.
1) Are they teaching the Word of God as being perfect, infallable, inspired by God?
2) Are they preaching that the ONLY way to salvation is through Jesus Christ, His death, resurrection, and our acceptance of the gift of Salvation?
There are other questions too numerous to list here, but you get the idea. If the answer to these questions is "Yes!", then that's all I need to hear.

At my church, we do 3 big concerts per year. They are completely Christ-centered. We do, however, send out postcards as an outreach, and every concert, we have people from the community come as a result of the cards. Every concert, visitors fill out a card, and some of them even request a visit from a pastor or outreach team. God has used these outreach events to bring people to Himself. OK, the idea of a free Blizzard for going to church isn't entirely my idea of outreach, but you know what? If even only one person in the community comes out to the church, hears the Gospel, and comes to saving faith in Christ, then God has been Glorified.

Giving out candy? Well, the book of Psalms does say, "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Ps 119:103 and "The ordinances of the LORD...are more precious than gold, than much pure gold, they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb" Ps 19:9&10 ;)

Now, if this church is just telling sweet stories, sugar coating God's word, and preaching anything other than the True Gospel, well, that's a different story...

I hope this all makes sense. I've been banished to the family room as my wife is having some sort of party upstairs. You know, one of those things where they sell stuff. ugh!

Reepicheep said...

You can say whatever you want bro, no one here should diss you. I appreciate your thoughts. Furthermore, if I sound cranky or judgmental, please say so. I didn't mean the post to be that way.

Here's my thing, and it's not anything personal with the particular church or other churches in their genre (or whatever you call it), it's the mindset behind it.

I think Christ is all together glorious and attractive. I think a church that preaches Jesus faithfully will necessarily attract people. Not just by the preachinhg mind you, but the people who are under such preaching and teaching- they also will be attractive. Their lives will show forth the glory of Christ as they love each other and their neighbors. God doesn't need us to employ "give aways" to get people to church on Sunday.

There's the other thing- this church isn't advertising a special evangelistic event on some night during the week- this is the church's regular Sunday morning gathering they are trying to pimp. I don't think the Lord's Day is meant for that. The Lord's Day is for the worship and honor of God as He is worshiped by His people. Coaxig folks in to be entertained, in my humble opinion, completely misses what Worship on the Lord's Day is all about.

Maybe the church does have a right view of Scripture, I don't know, but I would humbly submit they don't have a right view of worship. I say that worship of God is the most important activity of the Church. Evangelism will be the natural outflow from such a church. Evangelism doesn't trump God's standard for his people to worship- nor is it separate from worship either.

I totally appreciate your sentiment and will take your post as a friendly caution about being judgmental. Brother, you are right to caution me on that. Thank you.

I'm just so tired of the church acting like our God needs to be apologized for and thinking that Jesus isn't attractive enough just the way Scripture declares Him. The Church must declare the glory and worth of our great God, not hand out suckers. The people of God, if they truly love the grace of God in the gospel, will be the sweet aroma that will draw God's appointed to Himself.

Lot's more can be said here, but I'll stop.

Jeff, never apologize for speaking what you think. I need accountability from my brothers just like the rest of us.

Reepicheep said...

Andrew, you are right, very interesting they would include tongues in their "statement of faith".

Nathan said...

Think how hard it would be to do this kind of "outreach" in the Old Covenant. "Welcome Brother so glad you came, here's your blizzard, now get in line for your circumcission."

Reepicheep said...

Yeah, I think handing out a bag of ice after such a procedure does make sense...

Becca said...

Yeah, in studying the interaction of Church and Politics in my political science classes, I've naturally picked up a bit of a critical eye for how the Church recruits members, queues their political views, and interacts with the community. I've generally learned to temper this with a bit of grace, but when Churches "niche" themselves on such superficial grounds I think its a huge turnoff.

Qayaq said...

what church is it?

Reepicheep said...

I'd rather not identify the church. It's not meant as a personal slight on the church but rather an example of a very popular marketing strategy used by evangelical churches.

Qayaq said...

I found it! Wow! When reading part of his blogg I see that he has the same last name as another prominent pastor of a mega church that is Pentecostal possibly AoG. He has been on TBN and is a fairly prominent singer.

I think this is pretty typical of churches nowadays in all denominations in an effort to grow their church.

I will be curious if that chruch is there a year from now.

Kampfgruppe-H said...

Attendance would only depend on what flavors were served. Mint chocolate chip and I'm there!

M. Jay Bennett said...

Quick, hand me a bedpan!