Sermon Illustrations


When we speak of marketing the church (writes David Wells) we are not referencing such things as advertising church events, providing excellence in church programming, being kind to visitors, or providing ample parking. No one is arguing the importance and value of such things. Marketing, as defined by the new paradigm churches, goes much further because its focus is on what the consumer (Unchurched Harry) wants and thinks he needs, rather than on what God wants and what (God) says Harry needs. In other words, market-driven churches are built upon the foundation of polls, surveys and the latest techniques, instead of upon the Word of God.

In order to market a church to the unsaved, the consumer must be given what he wants. Since unsaved consumers do not desire God, or the things of God, they have to be enticed by something else. Thus the temptation then arises for a church to change, or at least hide, who they are so that they appeal to Unchurched Harry. Additionally, the church is tempted to alter its message to correspond with what Harry wants to hear and thinks he needs. The end result is a...gospel that appeals to Harry’s fallen nature in an effort to entice him to come to Christ, the ultimate felt-need supplier, so that he is fulfilled and feels better about himself.

But, "Can churches really hide their identity without losing their religious character? Can the church view people as consumers without inevitably forgetting that they are sinners? Can the church promote the gospel as a product and not forget that those who buy it must repent? Can the church market itself and not forget that it does not belong to itself but to Christ? Can the church pursue success in the market place and not lose its biblical faithfulness"

(Losing Our Virtue, by David Wells, p. 202. From a sermon by Bill Sullivan, Help Wanted, 11/18/2010)

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