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The Fad-Driven® Church

Phil Johnson, in an article titled More on the Fad-Driven® Church, has written on a plague that is infesting the Church with disease-carrying vermin of the worst kind: Church marketers. His focus is on a book by Tony "The Communist" Campolo and Brian "Unorthodox Orthodoxy" McLaren.

In the book Tony Campolo co-authored with Brian McLaren (Adventures In Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel) Campolo seems to suggest that seminarians ought to pay more attention to marketing techniques and less attention to theology, exegesis, and other traditional seminary curricula. After all, those are academic subjects with limited practical significance, and pastors these days hardly ever use such stuff after seminary. In Campolo's own words:

What if the credits eaten up by subjects seminarians seldom if ever use after graduation were instead devoted to more subjects they will actually need in churches—like business and marketing courses? ...

Pastors these days are thoroughly indoctrinated with the notion that they must regard their people as consumers. Religion is carefully packaged to appeal to the consumers' demands. There are even marketing agencies that specialize in church marketing. (Typical slogan: "Changing the Way the World Looks at Christians.") There are seminars for church leaders who want to learn how to "brand" their churches as a marketing strategy.

This stuff is everywhere. Fad-driven® pastors can even buy prepackaged, market-tested sermon ideas or whole sermon series. ("New fall message series designs!" now available.)

Now, I want to point out that I have never disagreed with Mr. Johnson over anything more serious than his eating habits. But I disagree with his conclusion:

... I'm convinced that those who do not get back to the business of preaching the Bible will soon see their churches shrivel and die—because, after all, the Word of God is the only message that has the power to give spiritual life.

2 Timothy 4:2-5 says,

"The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables"

Yes, those churches will die, indeed, they are already dead or dying, but those pastors won't see it, because their churches will not shrivel. They will continue to grow as long as there are itching ears to be scratched.

2005-07-20 at 3:00 PM MT | |