Churches That Grow

George Barna, the church growth researcher, listed things that growing churches do not do in his book, “User Friendly Churches”:
Growing churches do not:
• Limit God
• Maintain failed programs
• Embarrass visitors
• Become insulated from their communities
• Alienate those who are different
• Have cold-call evangelism
• Apologize for asking members to sacrifice
• Avoid confronting wrong behavior
I am bothered by some of his language. The church is not a company, and thus does not “market” the gospel in the way a company might conceive of the term. We preach the gospel, we offer it, but we don’t “package” it and market it. The methods of Madison Avenue do not meet the high ethical standards of the Master.
But Barna has a point. Jesus himself declared that “nothing is impossible for God” (Mark 10:27). Most CEO’s have human flaws, but the God whom we serve is without limitation! Peter declares that “God does not show favoritism” (Acts 10:34). And the church can and should ask members to sacrifice, based on Christ’s absolute sacrifice for us (Romans 12:1,2).
Yes, these principles work, and they are Biblical. The gospel message is one that our “market” (our community) needs to hear. It is one that is very desirable, for it offers forgiveness, meaning, and unconditional love. We ought to “package” this product attractively. Not in the sense of cheap marketing and advertising, but in our lives! We cannot contradict our message of hope and mercy by being grim and unforgiving ourselves! We must make the gospel “attractive” by the way we live (Titus 2:10).
This product should be shown in the very best light. The Gospel is too vital a message to be left on a warehouse shelf.

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