Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.Romans 14:4
I got another one of those church planting postcards in the mail the other day. I’m quite sure the pastor and/or the marketing team had nothing but the best intentions with their advertising pitch:
We’re not your parent’s church … or your grandparent’s church. If your heart yearns for uplifting messages, upbeat music, and an informal style, then you’re in luck. There’s a new church in town that’s completely different from anything you’ve experienced. Come see what a church that’s focused on the Gospel for today looks like.
What do you hear when you read this? Yes, I get that the new church is gearing up to try and reach young adults, but did they really need to bash every other church in town to communicate that?
Here’s what that postcard’s subtext is saying …
- The other churches in town are antiquated, irrelevant, and out of date.
- Only old people go to the other churches in town – you certainly won’t fit in.
- All the other churches are boring – they have uninspiring sermons; they play funeral dirges that are probably out of key; and if you don’t wear a jacket and tie or a dress and heels, you’ll be out of place.
- We’re the only authentic, gospel-centered, faith-filled church in town … so you’ll probably go to hell if you don’t go to our church.
Have I overstated the case? Maybe a smidge, but not by much.
My Uncle George, a WWII Merchant Marine Skipper, used to say, “You’re ship won’t float any higher in the water just because you sink other ships.”
When you plan your next marketing campaign, try to remember, whether you agree with their theology or not, all the other churches in town are trying to be authentic to their faith in Jesus Christ. Don’t torpedo them to make yourself look better. First, it’s bad form. But second, the pre-Christians, the Nones, and the Dones already see a splintered church and a fractured Christianity. Let’s not make it any worse. We really are all on the same team.