Tragedy of Compromise
Concept of "Marketing for Jesus"
of my wife's favorite restaurant experiences is the trip
to the salad bar. She can make a whole meal from the delicacies
found there. The wider the selection, the more she enjoys
contemporary churches have become specialists in operating
a spiritual "salad bar." There is something for
everyone. If you do not like one offering, you can readily
find something else more acceptable to your spiritual palate.
Such a "salad bar" approach attracts large numbers
of people, but does it build strong churches?
Is the Customer
modern churches are being built on the concept that one
must discover what the marketplace demands and then suit
one's ministry to those demands. It is the capitalistic
spirit in religious garb. One large church in a midwestern
city surveyed its surrounding neighborhoods and asked the
residents what kind of church they would prefer to see there.
The local residents gave many suggestions, and the church
then set about to create a new church patterned after these
expressed desires. Those polled, for instance, thought the
name "Baptist" was offensive and so the church
obligingly dropped the title.
to see any scriptural support for the concept of "church
marketing" so widely heralded today. The apostles conducted
no surveys of the godless multitudes in Roman cities in
order to ascertain what kind of church they might think
appropriate. They followed the patterns revealed to them
by God, not the opinions uncovered in a neighborhood survey.
What do unsaved people know about the proper nature of a
church? Nothing! They are spiritually incompetent, blind,
and rebellious against God. They do not possess the spiritual
ability necessary to assess properly the genuineness of
a church. They are dead in trespasses and sins. Dead people
do not make very good judgments.
matter of fact, the kind of church desired by the average
unsaved American may be totally opposite of that described
in the New Testament. The unsaved person wants a church
that will make him feel good whereas the Lord wants a church
that will make him feel the heavy guilt of his sin. The
unsaved person likes the jangle of contemporary musical
styles whereas the Lord desires music that magnifies the
Savior. The unsaved person wants a church that has few standards
or requirements whereas the Lord desires a church that calls
people to selfless, sacrificial service. The Lord does not
invite the unsaved to critique His church because they are
"haters of God, . . . proud, . . . [and] without understanding"
(Rom. 1:30-31). The will of God as to the organization,
methodology, and message of the local church is revealed
in the New Testament. These revelations are not subject
to adjustment or debate, nor are they open to the correction
of those who have no spiritual discernment.
The Aisle to
the Salad Bar
current fad of church marketing was conceived within New
Evangelicalism. Many of the leaders of the movement were
educated in New Evangelical institutions. Leith Anderson,
as an example, is the author of two popular books outlining
the church marketing approach. He is a graduate of two leading
New Evangelical schools—Conservative Baptist Seminary in
Denver and Fuller Theological Seminary.
inherent in New Evangelicalism have appeared also in the
church marketing movement where they have been applied specifically
to the field of church growth. While some fundamentalists
have become enamored with church marketing techniques, it
is primarily New Evangelicals that have promoted and practiced
them. Some guiding principles that church marketing advocates
have inherited from New Evangelicals can be enumerated.
A Disdain for
Evangelicals have shied away from publicly criticizing the
theology of other evangelicals. In a similar vein, church
marketing advocates advise those who would build successful,
growing churches not to criticize the views of fellow believers.
As an example, charismatic theology is not challenged by
noncharismatics. For this reason charismatics can often
feel comfortable in a church whose official doctrinal statement
may be noncharismatic.
The Tradedy of Compromise. ByErnest Pickering. ©1994. BJU Press.
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