Monday, September 24, 2007

Market-Driven Church

Life in North America is dominated by market forces. And church life is no exception.

When believers are looking for a church, they do an informal (or formal) cost-benefit analysis.

It might look something like this:



Quality of worship

Driving time

Skill of preacher

Giving expectations

Children's ministry

Volunteer expectations

Facility features

Facility limitations

Youth pastor?

Prestige of church in community

Business networking opportunities

Variety of service times

Variety of service styles

Number of paid staff

Of course, one size does not fit all.

We all have personal preferences, and we take them with us to church. So we shop around until we find just the right fit.

Then we enter into an informal contract with the church and its pastor: We pledge a certain level of attendance, giving and volunteering in return for religious goods and services.

If the quantity or quality of those services drop below our expectations, then we are released from our agreement and become free agents.

But this mindset is not limited to the "consumer."

Churches market themselves with yellow-page ads, direct-mail pieces and clever sayings on the church sign.

The market-driven church becomes the data-driven church. Demographic reports dictate the long-term ministry strategy. Programs are designed around the felt needs of the community. The pastor is expected to be a technician rather than a theologian.

This video is only a slight exaggeration:

This one is dead serious:

Ian Littler warns

Beware the measurable. Neither growth nor effectiveness is a reliable indicator of faithfulness. Consumers are trained to believe (wrongly) that they alone are the final arbiters of what they need. For marketeers the real issue is church survival, which they perceive to be entirely in our hands rather than the concern of the God who calls the church into being.

The church has been called into existence by God and entrusted with his mission. This mission is not fashioned in response to marketing studies and surveys. It is a mission that is not always welcomed by the powers that be.

Pastor Rod

"Helping You Become the Person God Created You To Be"


Nathaniel said...

I stole one of your not hate me too much.

However, I agree with your overall thesis, and have sent my readers your way. I am still waiting for the commercials where someone says, 'no, but I did just save my soul by switching to the First Baptist Church of Dallas'...

RF2R2 said...

'no, but I did just save my soul by switching to the First Baptist Church of Dallas'...

*shudder*... lol... *shudder*

Pastor Rod said...


They're not mine. I couldn't hate you. Thanks for the link.

God Bless,


Josh said...

I could not tell is the later video was serious or not. I still am having a hard time believing that they were not joking. htt

Pastor Rod said...


It is a segment from a program called "The God Squad." I believe it is a rabbi and a priest. It is entirely serious.


sofyst said...

I got a joke for you...

'A rabbi and a priest start a television show and call it the 'God Squad'...'