Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gimmicks Hard at Work

In a day where the slow nature of the economy has forced unforeseen layoffs and cutbacks, many companies are turning to marketing and sales gimmicks in an attempt to boost revenue, raise customer confidence, and invigorate a slow-moving stock market that is growing increasingly conservative. Many companies are turning to gimmicks who have never done so before, most notably Starbucks which has always kept itself away from advertising and gimmicks, relying on the testimony of regular customers and trustworthiness of the brand name to promote growth. Now the company is releasing a promo promising discounted drinks for those who purchase one in the morning as an afternoon pickup. This satisfies to some extent the bloggers who demand that Starbucks do something about its extravagant prices in order to stimulate customer traffic in a shaky economy. While I do agree that this is a good move to promote customer traffic, I do believe that this is a compromise of the company's approach towards marketing and advertising.

But is this the case only in secular, corporate America? Or have churches succumbed to the allure of advertising and marketing gimmicks in an attempt to be part of the "church growth" movement? Has the "seeker sensitive" movement caused us to compromise our doctrine and practice of worship and what it means to do church? Churches are so often looking to draw in people that they seek after the next wave of programming, the next big speaker to come and do a conference, catchy websites and billboards and license plates and t-shirts. In the effort to make our churches bigger and increase our programming and ministries and stuff, I believe it has made the back door of our churches as big as the front door. Thankfully the SBC passed a resolution to put an emphasis on Regenerate Church Membership which will hopefully make it possible for churches to take seriously the issue of church membership and will put an emphasis instead of numbers on growth and discipleship and maturity. By making our churches Gospel-centered and Christ-centered, I think it will result in numeric growth by the equipping of the saints for the work of the Gospel. Any program or ministry done by a church has to be God-glorifying and Gospel-centered or it is nothing more than a social gathering of Christian humanists who seek the happiness of man rather than the glory of God. Programs and ministries and efforts to reach out to the lost are great, but never for the sake of a gimmick to selfishly promote but rather to unashamedly point to the Cross and to the Gospel.
I pray gimmicks never have a part in my ministry, may the Lord guide me in that daily.

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