Posts tagged ‘Church’

December 20, 2013

Second Service!

501px-Berchem,_Nicolaes_Pietersz__-_Paul_and_Barnabas_at_Lystra_-_1650“God sends to gather and he gathers to send.” Gerard Kelly

This month Northern Lights Church held its second “monthly service” in the lead up to our launch on February 16 next year.  It was a great time with lots of new people.  We get people to fill in a “welcome card” to give us there details, and on it we ask for people’s first impressions of the church.  The word that appears most often in that section is the word “friendly”.  I am so pleased about that – because we are building a community of people who love God and share in life with each other.  Our name comes from our location in the north of England, but also from 1 John 1:7 which says, “But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other.”  If we are sharing in life with each other then we will create a friendly atmosphere.  It won’t have to be forced or demanded, it will just naturally flow.  That’s already starting to happen, and it is fantastic to see and feel.

What God is doing at our church is gathering a congregation together.  We will reach out to our community and share the love of God with them.  God will call people to himself and build the church.  This is happening because God has sent Catherine and I out from Australia to do the work that he has called us to.

This is God’s pattern.  He sends to gather and he gathers to send.  I like the verse in Ecclesiastes where Solomon says there is a time for everything, for gathering and scattering.  In the early church they gathered in Jerusalem.  Then they were sent out because of persecution.  They gathered in Antioch and built a great church.  Then they sent Paul and Barnabas out on a missions trip as the Holy Spirit directed.  The process goes on and on throughout church history – God gathers to send and then sends to gather.

God has given me a picture of this church as being like a bowl tipped slightly on its side.  A tap is feeding a stream of water into the bowl.  The bowl is overflowing and a stream of water is spilling over the side and leaving the bowl.  That’s how I want the church to be – a bowl with a stream flowing in and a stream flowing out.  The stream flowing in represents new people who are finding faith in Jesus.  The stream flowing out represents people who we are able to send out to spread the word further and start new works, new churches, and do great things for God wherever they go.

My focus is not on the size of the bowl, it is on the size of the streams.  May God give us a continual stream of people finding out about Jesus for the first time.  And may he give us the grace to train and develop them as disciples so that they can accomplish great things when they are sent out, as the Holy Spirit leads.

If you want to pray for the work that God is doing here in Halifax then pray that people would hear and respond to Jesus, and commit their lives to him.  And then pray that God would help us train the leaders that we need to send out to further his kingdom.  Because that’s really all that we are trying to do.  I expect that it will take us the rest of our lives to do it!  What a wonderful calling – I am loving it.

John

P.S. The picture is Paul and Barnabas preaching on their travels in Lystra (Nicolae Berchem, 1650)

September 26, 2013

Attracting People, Keeping People

gestureAs a church planter I’m very interested in getting people to come to church. Every pastor is interested in getting people to come to church. But many of them have an existing congregation and can simply rely on a steady stream of new people who have connections with existing congregation members. They possibly don’t have to do anything deliberate in this area at all. In contrast, Catherine and I have no congregation at all (except for our daughter!) So we are 100% reliant on attracting new people. So how do you go about that?

In my experience of church life one thing that rings true is whatever you do to attract people is what you will have to do to keep them. So if we attract people by having the world’s loudest rock band, or the world’s greatest dance troupe, or the world’s greatest singer (and yes, that would attract people) then to keep them we will have to keep putting on those kind of shows. What you end up with is people who like the band / dancers / singer but are not the least bit interested in the Christian message. You have attracted people, but not the kind of people that care at all about what you have to say. We have both seen churches do this, and it is painful to see them then assess, why is no one responding? They don’t respond because they were never remotely interested. They succeeded in attracting non-Christian people, but not non-Christians who were open to the gospel.

I learnt this lesson from Tim Hawkins who trained me in youth ministry. Tim oversaw a youth ministry of 300 high schoolers – one of the biggest in Australia. Every Friday night the 300 kids would attend various groups according to their age. They would play games, have fun, enjoy each other’s company, hear a little bit from the bible and go home. The games were front and centre. If you liked the games you would like the youth group. The problem was not many of those kids cared about the bible bit at the end. So the whole approach was changed. The decision was made to put the bible message front and centre. If you didn’t care for what the bible said then you would not enjoy the youth group. A year or two later Tim was in charge of a youth group of 150 kids who loved God and wanted to hear from his word. It’s not easy to take one of the nations biggest youth groups and halve it. That requires quite some courage. To say in the midst of the decline, “No, this new strategy is right, we are sticking to it” was very bold. However after a few more years again the commitment that those kids had to the gospel meant that they brought their friends, and it was back to 300. However this time it was 300 disciples, not just 300 kids who liked youth group games. Of course making disciples is what it’s all about.

So Catherine and I are working out exactly what advertising we will do to attract people. But you can be sure that we will be putting the gospel front and centre. Not in “Christianese” that unchurched people can’t understand, of course. But we will be making it clear that we have a message that will turn your life around if you will pay the price.

What we need to do is attract people who are open to spiritual things, who are looking for new direction in life, and who are not put off by the thought that a church is a place that might have answers.

We would much rather 20 interested people than 120 uninterested people. Because from 20 interested people you are going to get many people committing their lives to Christ. You will get the start of a great church, a church full of people who love God and want to grow in Him.

The other argument is that if you attract 120 people then it could well be that some of them will happen to respond even though they began to attend because there were things on that have nothing to do with the church’s message. But here’s my view after seeing a number of churches do this over the years – it just doesn’t work. It’s a failing strategy, and yet it remains very popular. It is a huge amount of time and energy for a minuscule reward.

Jesus, meanwhile, simply went to synagogues or wherever people assembled and preached. People were taken by his message. His healings and miracles were the “show”, not a musical performance. Changing the lives of the people who do attend is going to do more to grow the church than anything else.

John

September 19, 2013

The Trip to Wetherby

wetherby

Catherine and I continue to have a strong sense that God has and is going before us here in England. This post is about one of many things that has happened to give us that impression.

We have been making use of Ebay to buy some of the furniture that we need.  Catherine bid on and won some bedside tables, which we then had to pick up.  The seller lived in a town called Wetherby which is a full hour or so from where we are. We possibly ended up spending more on petrol getting to and from Wetherby than we did on the tables themselves, but anyway, we got some bedside tables which are doing a fine job.

We headed out to Wetherby on a Sunday afternoon – the church we had visited that morning was kind of on the way.  All morning I was thinking why on earth did Catherine buy some furniture so far from home?  Why are we going all this way for just a couple of bedside tables that could surely have been gotten fairly cheaply closer to home?  Anyway, it was an interesting drive (perhaps not for our 6 year old little girl, but we enjoyed it). When we arrived in Wetherby we were struck.  It was a sunny afternoon in summer, and the place was just gorgeous.  The bridge over the river was first built in the 1200’s.  There were flower boxes everywhere in full bloom, there was a lovely relaxed feeling and the whole scene was stunning.  It’s not a big town – the population is just over 10,000 – and this is a part of the world where there is a substantial size town every 10 minutes in almost every direction.

I was thinking, wow I know we’ve been called to Halifax but wouldn’t it be great to be here?  Catherine was thinking the same thing.  In fact she was even thinking that we should be planting a church in Wetherby.

Now allow me to give some background. Part of what we want to do through the church that we will plant is plant more churches in Yorkshire.  We have a list of 6 more towns that we feel God wants us to go to eventually.  Right now we are yet to plant any church, so it might be getting a bit ahead of ourselves by planning where all our daughter churches are going to be.  However we want to dream big, and make no apology for having bold plans.

So sure enough just the day after we get home from the trip to Wetherby I find some of our church planning documents and I glance over the list of six towns and there is Wetherby.  I couldn’t believe it.  There would be at least 30 places in West Yorkshire more obvious than Wetherby, but there it was on our list.  And we were completely ignorant of the fact when we were visiting.

There’s a lot of water to flow under the bridge before we plant a church in Halifax, and then years more until we plant in Wetherby, but when things like this happen we feel so encouraged that God is with us and will empower us to do what he has called us to.

John

May 29, 2013

The Underestimated Church

church-jelsa1As church planters Catherine and I have a vision to do several things beyond the planting of one congregation itself.  There’s three things that are on our hearts.  They are planting further churches, university ministry and missions in Moldova, specifically to the needs in that country related to orphans and young people at risk of being victims of the sex trafficking industry.

When we talk about the last one of those a lot of people get interested very quickly.  That’s great.  It is indeed a bold and remarkable ministry to get involved in.  Catherine blogged a bit about it here.

However I find that people tend to be a bit ho-hum about the thing that will start it all – planting a church.  After all, there’s lots of churches around.  It’s not as though no one has ever thought of that before!

I am immensely excited about starting the church.  I think that people underestimate the local church.  What we have seen in the last 30 years is a complete transformation in what the local church can accomplish.

It used to be that in the West if you had vision and you wanted to do something great for the cause of Christ then what you would do is start a missions organisation.  So in 1960 Loren Cunningham started Youth With A Mission, and a mountain of missions work has been done through this organisation since.  In 1951 Bill Bright founded Campus Crusade for Christ in an attempt to make an impact in colleges and universities.  Bright and Cunningham would certainly be two of the most significant Christian leaders in the West in the second half of the 20th century.  Back in that era the local church is where you went to pastor.  If you wanted to lead you went elsewhere.

The other way to have influence used to be through academia.  The likes of JI Packer and Don Carson sold huge quantities of books and were widely read by both church leaders and by lay people.

If you fast forward to today the most influential Christian leaders in the West are all pastors of local churches.  They are Bill Hybels, Rick Warren and Brian Houston, Bill Johnson and the like.  Those four leaders have had enormous influence by their conferences, writings, travelling and speaking.  They have set the agenda for the Western church.

In my lifetime there has been a re-rating of the importance of the local church.  The local church has overtaken missions organisations and denominational headquarters as the main tool that God is using to grow his kingdom and impact the world.  Let me be crystal clear – this is a brilliant development.  I praise God for all the wonderful work that missions organisations have done.  However the local church is far better suited to making a long term impact for the gospel.  Local churches have the mandate to be salt and light in their community as well as doing what they can to get the gospel to the ends of the earth.

So if there’s a problem that you want to solve – start a church.  If there is a need – the local church is the answer.  If you have a vision for doing something mind-blowingly huge for God then the local church is the place to work that vision out.  Do not underestimate what can be done through the local church!

John

April 29, 2013

What I Really Think About Hillsong Church

hcI grew up in north-west Sydney.  When I was born my parents lived in Seven Hills.  They moved when I was a toddler to Baulkham Hills, and then before I moved away from home we lived in Castle Hill.  So as far as the Hills District of Sydney is concerned, I know it intimately.  For many years there I would travel along Windsor Road and notice the sign in the industrial area that said “Hills Christian Life Centre”.  For years I wondered what it referred to.  I had no idea that it was a local church.

Hills Christian Life Centre started in 1983.  Just a few years later they started a creative arts conference which they decided to call Hillsong.  The annual conference was such a runaway success that it became what the church was known for.  So eventually they changed the name of the church to Hillsong Church.

Whilst I have never been a part of that church I did do 2 years of bible college there between July 1992 and June 1994.  So I think it is fair to say that I know what they are on about pretty well, having sat in their premises and listened to their leadership lecture me most days for 2 years.

That was all a long time ago now.  I went to Hillsong conference most years throughout the 1990’s, but hardly at all during the 00’s.  My church still sang a lot of their music.  Of course they have continued to grow at an amazing rate.  I can’t believe that a church from the Hills District has become the biggest church in Australia!  They now have numerous campuses around the country that have a total weekend attendance of almost 20,000.  The Hills District headquarters I think gets about 10,000 of those.  Amazing!  But Castle Hill is a remarkable suburb – a genuine bible belt.

It doesn’t end there either – the churches they have planted in other cities around the planet would have far more attendees than the Australian ones.

Their size has meant that they get attention that other churches don’t.  Just last year one of the tabloid TV shows in Australia gave them a thorough going over which I’m sure was not welcome.

During 2011 my church, of which I was on the eldership, engaged in discussions with Hillsong about the possibility of becoming a campus of theirs.  In the end it did not eventuate but it was interesting to spend more time with some of their key people.

What people tend to notice about Hillsong is the slickness of their production, the excellence of their music and the fact that they appear to be tremendously well resourced.  All of which is true, as far as I can tell.  But what are they like as people?  Is the reality as impressive as the music?

One of my fellow elders completely hit the nail on the head when he described what we liked about them.  He said, “it’s not what they do, it’s who they are.” At the root of that church is people who genuinely serve, genuinely love and genuinely ooze Christian character.  They are very impressive to meet – not because they have a large facility, large conferences, etc.  They are impressive to meet because they make the time for people, they care about people and they want to bring Jesus to people who don’t know him.

In my opinion Hillsong Church is church that the devil is terrified of.  It is a church that has made an enormous impression on its local community, on the rest of the body of Christ in Australia and increasingly around the world.  Long may it continue.

John

April 23, 2013

A Culture of Training

trainingOne of the least quoted and least understood things that Jesus said is this, “he who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” (Lk 6:40)  The context of the passage is Jesus making it clear that people should avoid bad teachers, such as the Pharisees, and embrace and become like a good teacher – himself.

One of the things that I am determined to develop when we plant our church is a culture of training.  At our church I want to ensure that every person who serves in any sort of leadership role will be properly trained for that role.  They will get ongoing feedback and support.  They will get the developmental opportunities.  They will get all that they need to realise their full potential.

Part of the desire that I have to implement this comes from my own experience.  I have done 3 and half years of bible college, I have worked on a church staff, I have been on a church eldership, I have sat in church services, small group meetings and various church programs for about 25 years.  I’ve seen plenty, I’ve done plenty and I’ve been taught plenty.  What it has brought home to me is that the most effective way to train someone is to mentor them through ongoing ministry supervision, feedback and teaching.   I had that for the period 1993 to 1996 inclusive from my youth pastor Tim Hawkins.  What Tim put into me in terms of relationship, supervision and feedback far exceeds all the lectures that I went to at bible college.

Take preaching, for example.  I actually went to 2 different bible colleges so I took homiletics twice (homiletics is the academic name for preaching).  Yet 90% of what I know about preaching comes from how Tim trained me.  Over those years he gave me feedback and on the job training that moulded me into the preacher that I am today.  I know about the different kinds of sermon not so much because a lecturer explained them to me but because Tim trained me.  He modelled preaching to me, he reviewed by draft messages, he worked on the things that I needed to improve.  He encouraged me, gave me a boost when I needed it and defended me when others criticised.  And he did it for several years in a row.

That sort of mentoring is powerful.  What a pity it is so rare.

Think about it – when Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost who do you think he preached like?  Who had he been watching for the previous 3 years?  Who had sent him out to preach?  Training is what Jesus did.  Jesus trained his 12 disciples.  He had mixed success – which I think that we can agree was due to the quality of the disciples and not the training.  But training his closest followers was the main focus of his ministry.

By the grace of God Catherine and I will fully train the people that God puts around us.  Can’t wait.

John

April 17, 2013

First Year Features

first-anniversary1Having felt called by God to plant a church since June last year I have read widely about church planting.  There are numerous books about church planting, and many of them are excellent.  They almost all talk about the principles of church planting – they don’t want to say “you have to do it like this…” but try to say, “this is the principle – apply it to your circumstances.”  I appreciate that approach, but at some point someone has to get practical.

I have found one and only one practical book about church planting.  It’s called Launch and is written by Nelson Searcy, a church planter in New York City 10 years ago.  We have found it very helpful.  One of the things that I have appreciated the most about it is his emphasis on not doing too much too soon – that is walking before you run.

Like any living thing, a church has various systems within it.  I can vaguely recall a high school teacher telling my class that the human body has a respiratory system, a reproductive system, a circulatory system, and so on.  Of course organisations also have systems within them – accounts, human resources, management, and so on.

Searcy says that there are some systems that need to be in place straight away, and some that can be developed later rather than sooner.  He gives 8 systems that you need to have in place by the end of your first year.  They are:

  1. Sunday services;
  2. Evangelism and assimilation;
  3. Website;
  4. Baptism;
  5. Church database and record keeping procedures;
  6. Accounting;
  7. Corporate / legal structure;
  8. Leadership Development.

Everything else can wait.  In fact if you try to do much more you run the risk of overextending yourself.  But those are the things that need to be done during year one.  When I read that it was such a relief to get an indication of what is highest priority and what is not.  I thought, “We can do that”.

I realised that there are even systems within systems.  So I broke “Sunday services” down into:

  • Bible teaching
  • Music
  • Children’s Church
  • Ushering
  • Communion
  • Salvation counselling
  • Prayer ministry
  • Set up and pack up

The idea is that focussing on making those systems excellent is much more fruitful than adding new systems and programs that the church might not be ready for.

So when Catherine and I start our new church our first year will be all about establishing these systems.  It will be about getting them working, and then getting them working well.  People will come to us and say things like, “We should have a (insert good idea) ministry.”  They will be right in the sense that there is probably merit in starting this or that ministry.  But the crucial issue is timing.  The last thing that you want to do is overextend the church by running too many programs too soon.

Then, just so I would not miss the message, I was having a look on Rick Warren’s blog the other day, and his most recent article was headed, “Church Planters: 5 Steps to Take but Take Them Slow”.   His conclusion is, “I can show you how to grow a great church – but I can’t show you how to do it quickly!  It takes time.  Your church won’t be built overnight.”

We are going to Halifax to build a great church.  Slowly.

John

April 10, 2013

Our Next 12 Months

church plantingOver recent weeks we have shared about our call and our vision to plant a church in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in the UK.  You can read about our call in general here and about the name of our congregation, Northern Lights Church, here.  So practically, how do you go about planting a church?  In this post we will explain how our plans currently shape up.

Late July and August: 

We plan to leave Australia on 30 July.  After arriving in Halifax, we will find a place to live and look for part-time work.  Our thought with work is that we think it would be asking a baby church too much to be the only source of income for our family.  However if we have full time jobs then there simply won’t be enough hours available to give to the church.  So we plan to get part time jobs and also draw a part time wage from the church.  We imagine that the fund raising we do in Australia will allow us to accomplish that.  Also in August we will enrol Poppy at school, visit friends in Southport, UK, and hopefully find 2 weeks or so to go over to Canada for a holiday.

September: 

Poppy starts school.  We will begin searching for a suitable venue for the church to meet.  We will meet with as many people in and around the town as possible.  We will begin to raise awareness in the community of our presence, our name and what are going to be doing.  We will lodge our application for registration with the UK Charities Commission.

October: 

We will continue to raise awareness, and prepare for our first preview service.  A preview service is a dress rehearsal.  We plan to have three preview services each a month apart.  They will be in mid November, mid December and mid January.  In October we will also put time into the church website and getting a database in place, and finding some musicians who can help us in the early days.

November:

In mid November we will hold our first preview service.  Even though it is a dry run it works better with a crowd, so we will give it plenty of publicity and will collect the details of the people who attend.  In the days and weeks after the service we will make contact with the people who attended and see how many would like to be part of our launch team.  We will continue to raise our profile in the community.

December: 

In mid December we will hold our second preview service.  Afterwards we will continue to follow people up, build the launch team, and evaluate the service.

January 2014:

In mid January we will hold our third and final preview service.  As with the others we will follow people up, build the launch team, and evaluate the service.  We will increase our publicity efforts in the run in to the launch in February.

February 2014:

On February 9 or 16 we will have our official launch.  With as much publicity as is humanly possible we will commence weekly Sunday services.  We are aiming for a blaze of glory to begin with!  God has already given us the passage to preach from that day (1 John 1).  We will continue to evaluate everything that we do, and begin to identify some of the people that are already Christians who have leadership potential and put time into them to see what their gifts and callings are.

Remainder of 2014:

We will keep our focus on having consistently excellent Sunday services.  Other programs will be developed as the years go by, but they will not be the focus during 2014.  The priority will be the standard of the Sunday meetings and developing the other systems that are priority in our first year.  More about those systems in my next post!

Being a lawyer I will end with a disclaimer – there is plenty of scope for these plans to change!  We are going to a 2 day church planting course with the CRC on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 April.  We are hoping to get a lot of great ideas at that time, as well as meet other church planters so iron can sharpen iron!

John & Catherine

March 6, 2013

Introducing Northern Lights Church

Northern LIghts

Last week Catherine and I shared our vision to plant a church in the north of England.  This post explains our church name and what it means.

The local church is the hope of the world.  If the gospel is to spread and people are to be brought into the kingdom of God then it is the local church that is going to make it happen.  There is nothing more exciting than the birth of a new local church.  A Billy Graham crusade is awesome for a day, but a local church is awesome for generations.

We believe that God is calling us to do a lot of things beyond the town of Halifax and in various countries in Europe.  But the foundation of our whole strategy is to build a healthy, vibrant, gospel-centred local church.  That church will be the platform from which other things can rise.  Missions require people and local churches build a community of people.  Missions cost money and local churches make money.

Therefore we will plant and build a church in Halifax.  We have a big vision for church planting and missions in Eastern Europe, and there are many stages to it.  The first stage, and the focus for the early years of our ministry, is to build a great church in Halifax.  We will not overextend ourselves and attempt to do too much too soon.  One of the church planting books we have read says that most church planters overestimate what they can do in their first year and underestimate how much they can do in the first 5 years.  So we have a large vision but are content to pace ourselves.  We will take each step in the right season.

The name Northern Lights Church was first given by the Holy Spirit to a friend of ours, and we loved it straight away.  Then some months later in my regular bible reading I came across 1 John 1.  I was arrested by the first half of verse 7 – “but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.”  That verse will be our motto – our tagline if you will.  As we have more in common with Him we have more in common with each other, and our relationships deepen.

To use it as a tagline it needs to be accessible to unchurched people.  The word fellowship is a church word, so I looked for other translations.  Here’s the Contemporary English Version – “But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other.”  Perfect.

We also deliberately want the plural – Northern Lights.  We want to plant churches that will light up the north of England.  We want to be dreaming about daughter churches and granddaughter churches from day one.

At our launch I will preach from 1 John 1.  I realised as this was unfolding to me that this section of scripture includes towards the end verse 9.  It says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  That is one of the bible’s great salvation verses.  That verse will end our first message, and Catherine will then do an appeal for people to make first time commitments to Christ.  We believe that God will cause people to respond.

Do it Lord!!

John

January 22, 2013

Church Marketing Matters

Church-Sign-1024x768

The subject of church marketing gets some interesting reactions from people.  The whole concept causes some people to protest.  It might be along the lines: “Jesus is the King of King and the Lord of Lords.  He is not trendy.  He is not a corporation.  He should be worshipped not marketed.”

I understand that sentiment, but any given church that wants to reach people for Jesus needs to let those people know that they exist.  In the 1992 the US researcher George Barna wrote a book called Church Marketing.  I read it a long time ago and I can still remember him making this point: If your church has a sign out the front of its premises then like it or not you are engaged in church marketing.  The question then is are you going to do it well or not?

Some critics of church marketing have written a book that alleges we are selling out the church by entertaining these ideas.  The book has a glossy cover, a well designed and clever graphic on the front and a foreword by a well known minister.  So that pretty much shows you what the authors really believe about marketing.

The fact is that most local churches are an organisation.  Yes they are part of the bride of Christ, they are the family of God, they are a royal priesthood of people filled with the Holy Spirit.  But none of that stops a local church from being an organisation as well.  The exception is probably a house church which would not even have a sign out the front, and would rely 100% on word of mouth to let people know about it.

If a local church is reaching out to those who don’t know Christ in their community then they will have to let those people know about their existence.  If that church is in a Western nation in the 21st century then those people that they are trying to reach live in a consumer culture.  That’s not their fault, and that’s not a problem.  But if a person in that culture is considering attending an event at a church then they will quite possibly be put off if their gut reaction is, “looks dodgy”.

Of course this is a separate issue to whether the person dislikes the message of the church.  If they hear the gospel proclaimed with clarity and respond by thinking “that’s rubbish” then no amount of marketing will help.  Marketing is irrelevant at that point.

But what about a person who is open to the message of the gospel?  If that person lives in a consumer culture then they will intuitively discount coming to an event, church service or program which looks and feels shoddy or unsuited to them.

So if you are going to reach people who live in a consumer culture then you have a choice.  You can either say we have the gospel, we don’t care about how our organisation looks to those we are trying to reach.  Or you can say we will let nothing stand in the way of people hearing the gospel.  We will do everything possible so that the gospel and the gospel alone is what people react to.

Don’t think that by paying attention to marketing that I am talking about professional multi media displays and slick advertising.  I’m talking about things that affect every church.  Is the church building well presented?  What quality of coffee is available after the service?  Are the toilets clean?  Do you use the sort of font that attracts your target demographic in your printed materials?  Getting these things right is not only the province of wealthy, large churches.  But if you get all of these decisions wrong people who otherwise would be drawn to Jesus will intuitively think “I don’t like it here.  I don’t want to come back.”  And they will have that reaction because of poor marketing, not because they don’t want to follow Jesus.

In my mind poor church marketing borders on being sinful.  God has appointed us to go and bear fruit.  If you live in a Western country then you are called to be fruitful in a consumer culture.  If people who are interested in the gospel are turned away by poor marketing of the church then we will have to give an account to God for that.  I think pointing out to the Lord that we were theologically pure won’t cut it.  He wants fruit.

John

PS I found the picture attached to this post on a blog that has a terrific collection of funny and peculiar church signs.  Nice work Travis Agnew – check it out here.

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