Pastors: Talk to your people about books worth reading. Get your sermons from the Bible, not some marketer. Critique the fads. Most of all, present the savior and the call to follow him. Tell Lifeway to take their next marketing ploy to the shredder. Resist the remaking of the Christian faith into buying stuff, wearing stuff, going to stuff, doing programs and spending money. Remake your Christian experience this year into something that’s not just another fad. Get angry if you need to, or just quietly say “I’m not part of this anymore.” Get off the train and walk. Wave at the sheep on their way to the next sheep convention to get a sheep shirt and a bag of sheep books.
Get your people reading the Bible, reading good books, talking to each other, doing ministry in your community and grounded in simple Christianity. Reduce your consumeristic discipleship by half, and then look at the half that’s left and see what you really think of it. Jesus said that if we find the treasure in the field, we don’t buy, we sell. We give away. It’s a revolution, not a convention or a market. Jesus went to a religious marketplace once. It didn’t turn out well.
Do something as a disciple that makes sense: repent of and abandon this consumeristic Christian virus before it kills you.
UPDATE: In the comments, Corrie asked for a top ten book list from the iMonk - Michael out did himself by recommending a lot more than ten. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel and anything by NT Wright (or Tom Wright - the easier reading edition of NT) would be where I most strongly agree with Michael. (Boar's Head Tavern Mutt, Van Til, Fisk's Michael's list for TRs, so they don't need to - très heureux.
BTW: Michael has become a regular and very good podcaster. Make a point of checking him out. Here's his latest.
Haven't talked about the Zune lately. Perhaps this is why.
Microsoft hopes to sell a million by June 2007. Apple sold multiple millions in December alone. And musicphones outsold both Zunes and iPods combined. Sony Ericsson shipped 3 million Walkman phones from August to December of '05 alone - and that just after they launched - this year has been even better for them.
...music cellphone sales are already showing signs of strong performance around the world. Sony Ericsson has sold 15.5 million Walkman music phones in just 14 months, and Motorola claims sales of 15 million "high-quality music phones" in the past year. But now for the real clincher: Nokia expects sales of music phones to be 80 million in 2006 alone, making it the world's largest manufacturer of digital music-players (sorry Apple).
Nintendo itself is clearly too smart to market the Wii as a fitness device. You won’t see a word about it in the ads. The closest a spokeswoman would come to addressing the fitness topic is, “Enjoying the Wii in both a physical and emotional way is one of Nintendo’s new forms of gaming. It’s a great mind/body connection.”
Now, I already know what kind of hate mail I’m going to get. “You’re a terrible parent,” it’ll say. “Your kids should be outside getting fresh air and sunshine, playing stickball and walking a mile to school, uphill both ways!”
Yes, O.K., sure. That would be great.
That would also be 1950.
Besides, that’s the wrong comparison. I am not suggesting replacing real, outdoor, playing-with-neighborhood-kids exercise with Wii playing.
I am, however, suggesting that the Wii is infinitely better for our kids’ health than any other video or computer game — in fact, better than just about any other indoor activity.
We've been regularly hanging out in Pittsburgh for almost 15 years - and never done the drive out to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. Today that changes.
In a few minutes we leave for Ohiopyle and then mid-afternoon we do Fallingwater - you have to book a tour beforehand. I'll try to post a photo later today - exterior only - no photo taking allowed inside.
'Tis a lovely day in the 'burgh with partly cloudy skies and temps in the low 50s ºF. Mid 40's at Ohiopyle. Should be a great day.
In all the years (since 1992) that we have travelled to Pittsburgh, I was never really interested in going to Fallingwater. Boy, was I wrong! It was well worth the drive and the cost ($16 bucks per person). We had fabulous weather, sunny skies and near perfect temperatures.
Here are a few shots (at my friend, Garry's reminder.) I want to go back again even if my mold allergy was driven crazy by the place. It was that wonderful (though the ceiling heights are rather low). Wikipedia has a very good page on the former Kaufman family vacation residence.
...Pentecostalism is wonderfully innovative. What other Christian movement can produce churches with names like the Mountain of Fire and Miracles (in Nigeria) and the Church of Christ's Spit (in Brazil)? And what other religious movement can produce “hallelujah robotics”—a sort of frenzied dancing and chanting? Churches also make aggressive use of modern media. With its charismatic preachers, dramatic testimonials and miraculous cures, Pentecostalism is telegenic.
"You have to know your product and be able to market your product and our product is Jesus Christ," says Taynia Wright.
Ms. Wright, from a Toronto Star article I quoted in August of this year on marketing techniques used to grow certain megachurches in my fair city. (The article is now only available for a fee.) She is part of a church leadership team who
...are using integrated marketing methods most associate with mega-corporations like Disney, Wal-Mart and McDonalds. They employ state-of-the-art technology, media and entertainment products to spread their faith message, promoting and distributing their religious ideas, goods, services, organizations and events to a market of Christians and potential believers.
...practising a form of faith marketing worthy of a five-star rating, according to secular marketing executives.
Wow, if secular marketing execs are impressed, it's got to be good, right? And what better product for a marketing message than the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus in a Box - now who wouldn't want to buy that product. (Of course we need to smooth off some of the rough edges - no crosses, no "sin" talk, no cursing fig trees or temple table tossing - not good for the brand.)
Growth is key to megachurch success because large, enthusiastic congregations are what megachurches "sell" to potential members, according to James Twitchell, author of the forthcoming Shopping for God: How Christianity Went from In Your Heart to In Your Face.
The first thing you hear at a megachurch these days "is how many new members they have. Churches used to be politely non-competitive," says Twitchell, professor of English and advertising at the University of Florida. But since so many megachurches are now independent or quasi-independent of centralized denominations, they aggressively compete with other churches for members. Maintaining rapid growth is tough, and when churches falter, that's when corporations spot an entryway, Twitchell adds. "Advertisers can go to the heart of your mission—in the case of megachurches, that's evangelism—and underwrite it."
How much better can this get. Not only do we have a fantastic product in Jesus (Smooth-Edged Jesus™, that is) - but if we run into problems marketing Him, we can get corporations "onboard" to help us. Brad Abare in a brilliant post, Your Church, sponsored by Crest White Strips says
The realization to mainstream marketers that congregations are a worthy market is long overdue. I also think churches are long overdue to harness this powerful partnership potential and consider the synergies. I am not suggesting we start re-naming our churches to include a sponsor's name, but there is certainly room for strategic and meaningful partnerships.
Toronto's Skydome became the Rogers Centre, why couldn't The Meeting House become Molson's Meeting House - if it helps the church grow, can that really be a problem.
Let's be honest. Church is really about how we get more butts in chairs - and then get those butts to make transactions for Jesus - whether they raise their hands, come forward or whatever peculiar initiation you might practice. If we need a little product placement to make that happen, can you really have a problem with it? Perhaps a Pontiac placed purposefully in the foyer, a few words about a new Disney flic from the pulpit, a brief infomercial before the sermon - hell, it's all for a good cause - the cause of Smooth-Edged Jesus™, right?
It's time we became comfortable with who we are - consumers with a capital "C". I'm sick and tired of people who are upset about the techniques we use to get people in our doors, so we can get them "saved." Don't they realize that people are just dying for Smooth-Edged Jesus™. As Twitchell says elsewhere,
Commercialism is more a mirror than a lamp. That we demonize it, that we see ourselves as helpless and innocent victims of its overpowering force, that it has become scapegoat du jour, tells far more about our eagerness to be passive in the face of complexity than about our understanding of how it does its work.
<snip> The new model citizen wearing his Calvins and eating his Paul Newman popcorn while applying his Michael Jordan cologne, ... is the citizen consumer, the one who makes rational choices based on assimilating all the available information. Thinking ends in action and that action is buying. W. H. Auden may have lampooned this creature as the drone of the modern state (The Unknown Citizen), but it seems it is not the state that makes the drone, but the drone that makes the state.
God knows we need more drones in the pews - and great marketing will get them there.
ASIDE: If you're confused by Part 4, you might find this post interesting and perhaps even more confusing. There will be a Part 5 in this series (and maybe even a six and seven.) Part 1, Part 2, Part 2b and Part 3 are available for reading as well.
ASIDE 2: And if you're just starting out in your church marketing, you might want to consider this simple tool - the EvangeCube - makes witnessing easier than any four spiritual laws ever could. Use it to help build your initial audience congregation - and grow from there. (HT: Wilbur)
I hope to spend part of the drive to Pittsburgh working on Part 4 of Marketing the Church. The comments section in Part 3 has been quite interesting. And I've appreciated the response from a number of my blog compatriots.
I hope to have the blog post up late tonight or for Thursday morning.
UPDATE: Thinking I was going to get it done while driving was unrealistic, to say the least. I'm working away on it now (1:30PM EST, Thursday afternoon) and it will be up later this aft.
I'm one of those people who hasn't really enjoyed Christmas for years. (Which I hope is safe to say after the fact.) Too much family "stuff" going on (in the extended rather than the immediate). We almost escaped town for this Christmas but that got cancelled in the fall - so here we stayed.
Today, I realized that I've made it through another "holiday season" - a little worse for wear but still standing. (I do love being with my kids and their thoughtful gifts to Imbi and me reminded us of how much we are loved. We have incredible kids!) But, I think this is the last year we will do Christmas this way (and yes, I've talked to Imbi about this...in fact, she's been saying it for years).
Next year. Christmas Eve will be our family celebration. Christmas day will be spent doing something that makes more sense in what we profess to believe. I'm not sure what that will be...and perhaps you have suggestions...but I can tell you that for my sanity it needs to be about the One in whom I place my faith...and not about me.