I work in a church. Ask me a year ago if I thought I'd be working in a church. Ask me a year ago if I WANTED to work in a church. .... the answer is no, in case you don't catch sarcasm easily. Ask me 6 months ago when I went to work at a church if I wanted to work in a church. Still, no. Ask me, right now, if I want to work in a church ... you hopefully are catching on, now.
I went a long time without being in a church regularly. I WENT to churches, mostly for musical reasons, but I wouldn't consider any church a "home" church. Heathenistic, I know, but I have no problem BEING the Church as opposed to GOING TO the church.
But now I'm back. I'm in the same place every week, and what's more, I'm on staff, and I get to see all the little details that make a church function. This was no mystery to me; I grew up a pastor's kid, so I know that church is more than songs and sermons. But as the Church is changing, it's interesting (and scary, and frustrating, and depressing, and hopeless) to see how churches are fighting to keep relevance in the world.
Just the other day I was thinking about what it was that frustrated me most. I came up with this: I hate marketing. It occurred to me a few weeks ago in a meeting that I really don't know why people go to church. I know why people should go to church. I know why I would go to church if I wasn't employed by one.
The problem I have is that the reason we should "go to church" (which, preferably, should read "be a part of a church") comes from our spirit, while Church Marketing tends to appeal to our flesh. The spirit is selfless, and so should be our reasons for being in the church. Then why do we spend so much time trying to attract church-goers' flesh?
Instead of attracting people to a weekly service where their spirit can be refueled (assuming that spirit has been accessed during the week), why do we advertise great music and good speaking? When an event has actual spiritual girth to it, why is the marketed geared towards the food or prizes involved?
This post is, as usual for me, to ask more questions than give answers. But, I wonder often if we would just let the Holy Spirit be Lord over our churches, and not our marketing team (or pastors who need to be teaching and leading, rather than marketing), how would that affect today's Church? Less people would show up, that's the first thing. While most would see that as the first sign of failure, I honestly see it as the first sign of success, because the people left over would be there for the content, not the context. THEN, those that have come for the right reasons will invite for the right reasons, and will share for the right reasons, and will evangelize for the right reasons, and "make disciples" for the right reasons. THAT'S a Church I want to be a part of. I'm tired of thinking of ways to convince people to join a club, to attend a meeting, to go on missions. We need to stop appealing to flesh and being disappointed when the Spirit doesn't get involved (or worse yet, shocked when He does get involved). Start teaching how to live in the spirit and I think Church Marketing will redeem itself. And it will stop sucking.