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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
The first lesson in successful marketing and entrepreneurship always underscores the fact that the customer is king. I have always told my self if I were to start a church it would be the world’s best church. It would be the epitome of tolerance and relevance. Who says the church cant be geared towards increased attendances, happier people with numerous self sustaining projects and great reputation among the un-churched and still bring people closer to God? With this purpose driven approach the announcements and messages on Sundays can be formatted into short cool packaged video clips and media presentations with sharp crisp HD images linked with virtual surround sound.
As many “creative” mega churches have realised, you only have to have an Orthodox Statement of Faith on your Church website but you really don’t have to stick to it. Creativity is having the guts to be “flexible” enough to use the loop holes around your statement of faith to maintain your touch with relevance. Always remember the customer is king. What’s wrong with a little modernisation in a Twenty first century contextualised church? The church is not in the Nineteen-frozen-stiff century. So from the moment an unsuspecting sinner graces our emerald doorsteps he would be duly greeted by an enthusiastic team of tuxedoed shake-your-hand-out-of-its-socket ushers with large ear to ear botox stiffened grins and sparkling white veneers for cool aesthetics. We would spare no expenses I tell you. What? After all, this is God’s house and haven’t you heard the sermon that God is not poor and doesn’t have poor children? Ha!
The Church’s rock band would perform each song with zest and breathtaking athleticism, wrestling style entrance pyrotechnic explosions, prop and stunt choreographed somersaults, guitar bashing and smoke screens. The whole shebang! Then top that the youth pastor’s New-Kids-On-The-Block youngster’s doing a holy hip-hop catchy and danceable ballad. Oh did I mention (as I catch my breath) that each week there would be a guest artist called the mystery worshipper. This would be any of the celebrity artists with recent releases yearning to have alittle exposure and bless the house of God without charging a fee. The celebrity’s entrance would be par excellence as he would be lowered from the ceiling with guide ropes and raving helicopters! And stifled Hallelujahs!
Now, ever heard of the church cat walk? That one got me by surprise too but some body in Frisco Texas pulled that one off. Just like that church in Frisco Texas, I would indeed have a “strut your stuff” Sunday. Complete with a customised cat walk for the ladies to show off what their mammas gave them. Hey, we are all lovers of self, aren’t we? Robert Schuller Sr, once said “Self esteem is the new Reformation”. Every body needs a boost of their self esteem some time. And the loss of self esteem is said to be the worst of all “sins”.
My wife asked me what messages would I preach? Gee. Thats the simplest question -there are zillions online sermons these days for the busy pastor who hasn’t prepared any thing for Sunday. These sermons are sold complete with illustrations and well packaged knock-knock jokes and riddles. Then there are movie sermon series depending on the latest Block Buster releases. However you can play it safe – most churches these days preach neutral messages. Sermon that are in the self help and motivational category that emphasise self esteem, reaching your destiny, conquering the world of your dreams and how to succeed in relationships. Tell me who you would be offended with any of these?
Since the days of Charles Finney, altar calls have become in vogue in most churches. I would raise the bar in decisional regeneration. How? There would be a remote control button on every arm rest. One button (thanks to Face Book) would read Click if you would LIKE Jesus to be your friend. And that would be the only decision the prized sinner would have to make and presto! One more sinner would have been won to the kingdom of God. You see in this Post -Christian time era, people don’t need to be told about repentance and faith and scary stuff like righteousness , judgement or God’s wrath over their sins (uh, sorry mistakes). I agree with Joel Osteen you don’t have to talk about sin. People know that they are sinners so there’s no need to bash them when they are already down.
Refreshments are not only vital for the human species Homo sapiens, they are a right. I have always admired churches with large leather sofas, suave coffee lounges and juice parlours. Well the churches that know how to cater for diverse tastes usually not only have a coffee lounge but have Starbucks, Pret a Manger or Costa Coffee or at least Caffe Nero brands. With non smoking and smoking rooms for the nicotine indulgent brother full with a cigarette shop where they can smoke safely with certified health and safety features ‘environmentally green’ cigarette brands or atleast free Cuban cigars (free on Birthdays, Easters and Christmas).
Sunday school for the kids must always have a cinema lounge, swimming pool, games arcade, soft play area and paint ball facility. Other extras include MacDonalds fast food chain with Big Mac ® and Whopper ® plus a well stocked ice-cream parlour, kiddies candy shop and a multi-flavoured juice fountain rink. This will excite them enough to keep coming back to church.
The last lesson in successful marketing states that the mark of a good sales man is he always leaves his customer begging for more. At the end of the service I would then promise we would top up the next week’s service with a grander performance (or even a conference). Take away goody bags at the end of the service would include freebies for every one: self help books for ladies, Play Station games for children and free car wash vouchers for men. First time visitors would get money vouchers and free gym membership to the church gym. As the music fades and the arcing neon lights circle down into one focused beam with me at centre stage, then and only then would the visitors actually realise they have been watching my pre-recorded hologram. The real me had flown off to the Bahamas for a much needed 3 monthly break. Don’t they know how hard it is for God to leave you to do all His work?
As I pondered on many of these innovative issues a thought occured to me. With God, is it better to be faithful and stick to the Bible or success ful? Now I realise how those two men felt when they walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” Is that also what Leonard Ravenhill had in mind when he said: One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed.
We might give a most impressive display of energy, vitality, and activity, but when we get to the end we shall have to ask ourselves, what’s been the point of it all? In the day of the judgment of the believer before God he may say to us, “What you did was interesting, and active, but you missed the point.” -The Man God Uses, Ray C. Stedman