Thursday, February 17, 2005

VFTP: Multi-Level Marketing?

Millions of people over the years have been influenced to find a church by Billy Graham and other gifted evangelists. Churches were packed with new seekers after the 2001 terrorist attacks only to find that church had nothing to offer them. Most likely, they attended a Sunday where they were told to “Bring a Friend to Church.”

Christianity is not a multi-level marketing scheme. Businesses can use schemes like multi-level marketing because they don’t need to be concerned about all of the people who say “no”. If a business gets enough “yeses” it will be successful. For way too long, Christian leaders have also been satisfied with getting a few “yeses” without being concerned about the negative impression they are making on all of those potential believers who look at their pesky neighbor and think to themselves, “I would never be a part of a group like that.”

After all of these years of bugging friends and neighbors, it has become more difficult for those gifted in evangelism to spread the Gospel because the ungifted have already hardened the resolve of non-believers. It has also become more difficult for those who want to belong to a church with thoughtful leadership to sit and listen to leaders continue to make the same mistakes. Isn’t it about time Christian leaders came up with a better idea than “Bring a Friend to Church” Sundays?

3 comments:

Teresa said...

Amen! Amen! Finally, someone who is writing to a mixed audience. We are just normal people who believe in an Almighty God.

Buz said...

David,

Forgive me for not responding to your notes earlier ... other things have been a bit more pressing on my time.

I have read your "Drag a friend to church" posts, and there are some parts I agree with and others I do not.

(1) Most importantly, you say that not everyone has the gift of evangelism. Very true. BUT, not having that gift does not release us from the responsibility of spreading the Gospel just as not having the gift of generousity does not relieve us from the responsibility of contributing to God's work.

(2) You give a whole laundry list of what people are and are not looking for in a church. I would posit that what people are really looking for in a church is God. Not programs, not friendly people (although that is often the face of God which they see in a practical sense). If God is not there to meet them, they will not stay. If God is there, and they perceive that He will meet their needs, they will come back.

How do people meet God? How do you meet anyone ... bodily. WE are the body of Christ ... it is through us that people meet God. The first thought that should go through OUR minds whenever we meet someone is "am I showing the love of God to this person?".

(3) Why do "drag a friend to church" programs not work? Well, think about the implecations (assuming the person is a non-believer) ... you are asking them to change the very foundation of their lives from "me" centered to "God" centered (that, after all, is the ultimate purpose of coming to church ... anything less is a fruitless pursuit). To that end, what does your church mean to you? Is it the place you meet with God and other believers? Is it the place you can hardly wait to go? Are you there whenever the doors are open because you can't get enough? If not, why should they bother? Who wants to buy a Chevy from a guy who drives a Ford? Psa 26:8; 27:4; 122:1 ... THIS is a man with whom I would be eager to go to church ...

Buz

David M. Smith said...

Hi Buz,

Thanks for the comments.

I wish that people who went to Church, either as regular attendees or as visitors, were looking for God. However, it has been my experience from the time I was a little boy, very few people go to Church looking for God. As I read all of your comments, I read about how the Church should be and I agree with you, but it is not a description of how I have observed the Church to actually be. Maybe our experiences are different, but maybe our perspective is also different. I've been trying to view the Church as an outsider, and present what I see.