"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Monday, February 22, 2010

More Church Marketing in the SBC

I have had much to say on this blog about the implementation of "church marketing" by churches, especially mega church Southern Baptist churches. I've been critical of my former church in utilizing the services of a church marketing firm, "The A Group", owned by Maurilio Amorim. I've been critical of the A Group's involvement in the commercialization of the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference in making it a marketing bonanza, selling promotions packages and advertising space even on the goodie bags and bottled water - even the disgrace of selling access to the platform for several thousand dollars for the privilege of getting to say a word to the attendees.

I still wonder - why do pastors feel the need to take the money given to them by God's people, given to do ministry, and then they need to take some of that money and hire a "marketing expert" like Maurilio Amorim? What role does "marketing" play in reaching people with the gospel? More specifically, what skills and insights does a Maurilio Amorim or any other hired gun church marketing expert possess that the seminary-educated church staff does NOT have?

Through the magic of Twitter, we see that another large SBC church is employing the services of Maurilio Amorim. It seems that Maurilio got on an airplane in Nashville this weekend, flew to southern Florida, and did one of his "secret shopper" visits; presumably to FBC West Palm Beach pastored by Jimmy Scroggins. Maurilio stayed at a nice hotel, Twittered about his meal at a French bistro and shared a picture of his dessert, and then visited a church Sunday morning. And Twittered about the strong perfume of the lady sitting in front of him - perhaps he needs some hazard pay for having to endure such hardship.

I like Jimmy Scroggins, and listen to his sermons regularly. But how ironic is it, that just after he and his co-pastor preach a stewardship series ("Crazy Love"), calling people to be generous givers (which by the way was a very good stewardship series), and then the next week they are taking money given by God's people for ministry and hiring the A-Group to help them figure out how to do their ministry and how to market it?

Some other questions: would any of these men who made the decision to hire a church marketing firm at FBC WPB, if it were THEIR MONEY and the church were their own private business, would have hired Maurilio and paid for his airfare and his hotel and his hourly consulting fees?


I have acknowledged before that the A-Group does some very good work in the technology area, website design, etc. And I don't begrudge Maurilio making his living by selling his wares in a free market, so the criticism is not aimed at Maurilio - its at the churches that seem to think they need to hire a church marketing firm to accomplish God's will for their church.

If these church marketing firms are such a good idea and a wise use of the money given sacrificially by church members, why doesn't the SBC help some of the smaller churches purchase Maurillio's services? I might think Maurilio's services would be of better use at a smaller church with less resources and fewer and lesser trained ministers. But at mega churches where there are scores of highly trained (and paid) ministers on staff - where does Maurilio come in?

And if church marketing plays such an important role...are we teaching church marketing principles in our seminaries so that we can HIRE a seminary trained "church marketing" expert? Or is that too worldly to teach in seminary - and if so, then why use them in the first place?

Last question: would the Watchdog readers be happy to know that YOUR money was used to hire a church marketing guy to do a secret shopper visit? Would you be happy to know that in addition to 50% of your church budget already being spent on staff salaries and bennies, that the staff feels the need to hire an "expert" to reach your community with the gospel?

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Last question: would the Watchdog readers be happy to know that YOUR money was used to hire a church marketing guy to do a secret shopper visit? Would you be happy to know that in addition to 50% of your church budget already being spent on staff salaries and bennies, that the staff feels the need to hire an "expert" to reach your community with the gospel?


ANSWER: No, and this is the very reason the church is beginning to see the many "drop outs" with their membership and I might add the drop out in their budget as people are re-directing their tith to other areas where monies is not mis-used for such nonsense.

What an arrogant young man to actually TWITTER his fine dining. His reputation is quickly growing to one of disrespect.

This is just the beginning of the start of "worse & worse" to come in the year 2010. Reports like this should be entitled "Ground 0" of church destruction.

Interesting article about a sucesseful paid consultant of the FBCJ church members monies. Well done Mac!

cheezewhizchurch said...

Nothing wrong with using advertising, being creative or innovative in reaching the lost or in using the latest technology in church. That said, many churches have gone overboard, are giddy with power and are obsessed with "leadership." There are so many books and blogs on Christian "leadership" that it boggles the mind. What would Jesus say about this focus on leading? Visiting sites on church relevance and growth strategies like http://church.alltop.com/ many listed here made my family re-evaluate our lives and our focus and sent my family out of evangelicalism and into a mainline church for the first time. I never thought we'd be at a mainline church, but the market-driven approach sickened us. We found that our mainline church and others in the neighborhood, too, hold a higher view of scripture now that most of these "relevant" evangelical churches. Their mentors/leaders/experts are who they listen to now. Scripture has become not much more than a nice accessory to use alongside quotes from pop stars.

Frank Gantz said...

You are getting pretty adept at slinging mud. Until I moved I was a member at FBC, West Palm Beach and can say that I never had a pastor that I loved or trusted more than Jimmy Scroggins.

A few bits of info to answer your complaints - First, you asked if a consulting group would be hired if the pastor owned his own business. Obviously, the answer would often be yes, since many business owners do just that. Though "highly-trained" a pastor has many areas in which to provide leadership. Outside help is often very helpful. Trained pastors are also trained in biblical study and theology, but still consider commentaries and study helps to keep themselves sharp.

Secondly, the French bistro at which the consultant ate and which you apparently find excessive is not excessive. I ate at this same bistro on their opening night. My wife and I enjoyed a nice meal for a fair price. Surely, there are more important things that you could find to criticize.

Anonymous said...

My question is why would any supposed man of God want any "advice," much less paid advice, from such a shallow, immature person?

Anonymous said...

Reports like this should be entitled "Ground 0" of church destruction.


AMEN BRUTHA!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Hi Frank - I too like Jimmy Scroggins very much. Glad to hear that you trust him very much, that confirms what I have heard of him as well.

And I'm well aware of the need to hire consultants in the business world. Generally consultants are hired when: 1. the organization doesn't have the staff or manpower to do an important part of the business; or 2. there just isn't the expertise within the organization for an important task.

So a church is charged with spreading the gospel, reaching people with the message of Jesus Christ, and caring for the sick and helping the poor. They are to minister to people and spread the gospel.

In a church like FBCJ and FBCWPB, I'm not sure where a church marketing man, fills either of these roles in the organization. Do they not have enough ministers on staff? Or they don't know how to reach people with the gospel? They need a guy from Nashville to fly in and tell them what strategies to employ? I don't get it.

Maurilio is one of the most open and visible church marketing guys I know of, and I've read much of what he has written on the Internet. What he knows and teaches is very basic marketing 101. There are lay people in churches that know what he knows and much more when it comes to marketing. Tap into your lay people if you need to think of innovative ways to share the gospel.

When I think of hired gun church marketer meeting with the executive staff of a church, the picture that comes to mind is from the movie "Elf", where the two writers charged with writing a children's book come up with the bright idea to bring in the high-powered, high-priced independent author to come up with ideas on the book. He flies into town for a quick session at a huge price, and tells them what they already should know.

Anonymous said...

The Western church IS the world now, friends. It is a business enterprise and many are being dazzeled with its bling.

Get out.

Matt

PS: Tom you ask very good questions.. Perhaps Mr. Gantz would give us some answers.


So a church is charged with spreading the gospel, reaching people with the message of Jesus Christ, and caring for the sick and helping the poor. They are to minister to people and spread the gospel.

In a church like FBCJ and FBCWPB, I'm not sure where a church marketing man, fills either of these roles in the organization. Do they not have enough ministers on staff? Or they don't know how to reach people with the gospel? They need a guy from Nashville to fly in and tell them what strategies to employ? I don't get it.


Neither would Paul.

Richard Byrd said...

First in transparency - I am a church marketing consultant. And I am currently working with a church in West Palm beach - although not the one is question.

In a nutshell, my job is to take the vision of the pastor and outline a strategy and plan for communicating that vision 1. inwardly 2. outwardly.

In my line of work - Pastors sometimes need an outside view or sounding board for their communications. Especially when trying to reach people who are "unchurched". My outside view of the church helps a ministries understand or see things that they might ordinarily miss - in many cases just because of familiarity.

I pray that marketing and communications begin to be taught in seminaries around the country. I would love to be out of business and concentrating on something else. But the reality is that it is not.

My job is not to "commercialize" the gospel. My job is to make sure that the message reaches the people.

Anonymous said...

"In a nutshell, my job is to take the vision of the pastor and outline a strategy and plan for communicating that vision 1. inwardly 2. outwardly."


And here I thought the vision was already given to us by Jesus Christ. Very clearly. And quite simply, too

Matt

Anonymous said...

" Especially when trying to reach people who are "unchurched"."

So, the goal is to get unbelievers into the Body? Are we assuming they become believers once they come in?

I used to believe this stuff, too.

Matt

Anonymous said...

MR BYRD CLAIMS:
"My job is not to "commercialize" the gospel. My job is to make sure that the message reaches the people."
=================================
WHAT AN INCREDIBLE STATEMENT! WHAT THIS PERSON DOES IS COMMERCIALIZE WHICH EVERYONE CAN SEE THAT THESE JOBS IS FOR "SELF" AND THEIR VISION ONLY TO MAKE MONEY!

AND THIS IS WHAT THEY SAY IS MINISTRY SERVICE - GOD HELP US ALL!

DON'T WE ALL JUST LOVE THE CUTIES "TWITTER" MESSAGES (perfume & desert choice) - TELLS US A LOT ABOUT THE PROFESSIONALISM AND PERSONALITES OF THESE IDIOTS WHO ARE NOW DRAWING PAYCHECKS FROM CHURCHES FOR THEIR WISDOM - INDEED THEIR MESSAGES ARE COMING THROUGH LOUD AND CLEAR & THEY LOOK LIKE FOOLS! :>)

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Richard - thanks for checking in here. I sincerely appreciate you defending your services.

However, you'll have to pardon my skepticism on the need for a consultant to help "communicate" the vision, whether it be in or out of the church. Let me explain from the perspective of a Southern Baptist of about 25 years:

First of all, we baptists have been told by our pastors that they are "God's men", that they have been "called" into the ministry by God Himself. They are on a higher spiritual plane than most of us, as they "surrendered" to the ministry, and God "called" them. We have been told by the pastors that the way God works in our church is this: God tells the vision of the church to the pastor - not to the other staff members or to the laypeople, but God speaks today directly to the pastor with the vision. Then, the pastor is to communicate that to the people, so they can get behind it, open their wallets, and pay for it (especially when capital funds are needed). We are to follow the pastor, because to follow him is to follow God and God's will for the church. And to even ask a QUESTION about the plan, to offer any opposition to the plan, is to be a troublemaker and a gossip.

So I am to believe that this vision that came from God for our church directly from God to my pastor, to be communicated to me (and I'm not sure why it would need to be communicated outside the church), requires Maurilio or Richard the consultant to get in a plane and fly down and meet with my pastor and his staff to figure out the best way to communicate it to me. If it came from God, then just tell me what it is. Or write me a letter. Or do both. And send me an email and Twitter too. I'll get the message on what the vision is. In fact, if I think I'm being coddled with fancy words and videos and big colorful banners designed by a consultant, I'm MORE apt to think the vision didn't come from God in Heaven, but from Gerry in Houston.

I know that is mighty cynical, but as a consultant YOU need to know what the people in the pew are thinking, right?

And by the way, another thing that seems strange, is how these mega churches many of them have "directors of communication", yet they STILL need to go to outside consultants on how to communicate? What is the "Director of Communication" for then?

It just doesn't add up to the average Joe pew sitter.

Thanks for hearing me out on that, Richard.

Anonymous said...

Richard Byrd:

I don't know you or anything about your services, but I appreciate your making a comment on this blog.

I believe that what a church chooses to do or not to do with respect to its ministries is a decision for that church. If you offer services that churches believe will help them and you do so with the right spirit, then without any additional information where wrongdoing is clear, I am not going to try and judge you or what you do.

I wish you good luck.

Louis

Anonymous said...

Richard Byrd said...

In a nutshell, my job is to take the vision of the pastor and outline a strategy and plan for communicating that vision 1. inwardly 2. outwardly.

My POV - a "God-called" preacher doesn't have a 'vision' to communicate - if he is called by God to preach the Word, then that is what he is to do. GOD will communicate what HE wants people to hear through that. A pastor doesn't communicate his own vision - unless of course, he's merely "in the business".


In my line of work - Pastors sometimes need an outside view or sounding board for their communications. Especially when trying to reach people who are "unchurched". My outside view of the church helps a ministries understand or see things that they might ordinarily miss - in many cases just because of familiarity.

My POV - the 'sounding board' for the pastor should be first, the Holy Spirit speaking to him and then the other people in his church. There is no reason for a "marketing consultant"; God's Word is not "marketable".



My job is not to "commercialize" the gospel. My job is to make sure that the message reaches the people.


NO, Mr. Byrd, that is not your job - that is the Holy Spirit's "job", and a pastor who feels he needs your assistance should not be preaching God's Word. This false idea comes from churches becoming "corporations"; they take their eyes off Jesus, the Head of the Church, and look to the world to "help" Christ "grow His church". How utterly arrogant and sinful. No wonder the Bible warns of things becoming "worse and worse" - we are living in that very time now.

D

Junkster said...

cheezewhizchurch said...
Nothing wrong with using advertising,


I'm not so sure about that. Maybe it isn't technically "wrong", as in immoral, but that doesn't mean it is the right thing for a church to do with the financial resources of its membership. Particularly when there are other things that the clearly outlined in Scripture that churches ought to do as their foremost priorities (caring for the poor in the body, supporting those who take the gospel to the world outside the church) on which they spend very little money at all.

Doug said...

Or maybe these "Consultants" think they are the only ones that could have a "Direct Hotline" between our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and these Pastors.

What makes them realistically think they are the only one that have the answers for issues within the church?.

So how many churches have these "Man Called Consultants" pastored?

cheezewhizchurch said...

Bravo, Anonymous 9:28

Junkster, most churches have a listing in the phone book or a small ad on a newspaper's church page, something on that order. They might call the paper to draw attention to a special Easter or Christmas service. I don't see anything wrong with letting a community know what a church is doing. Using what's available is fine. You can spend almost nothing using what's available. But that is so far from what the market-based churches are doing these days.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea that such methods were "fundamentals"

Anonymous said...

Lets please get something straight!! Unchurched is a Purpose Driven, New Age term. It is another seeker sensative, polotically correct, don't want to offend anyone, term. A person is either SAVED or Lost. Get it SAVED or Lost..... When I read or hear someone refer to the lost as unchurched, I immediately know what type of person/ministry/church is speaking. USELESS!!!!!

Anonymous said...

" I believe that what a church chooses to do or not to do with respect to its ministries is a decision for that church."

And it is the duty of the Body of Christ universal to point out when those methods or "ministries" have no foundation in the Word and are simply the traditions of man.

Time for many to break out Pilgrims Progress and give it good read.

What you are reading here is Vanity Fair with a plastic Jesus.

Matt

Anonymous said...

When I read or hear someone refer to the lost as unchurched, I immediately know what type of person/ministry/church is speaking. USELESS!!!!!

February 23, 2010 8:11 AM

Friend, You are correct and are picking up on the subtle twisting of what the Word teaches.

Matt

New BBC Open Forum said...

Anon 8:11,

I agree. However, there's another term I think applies to many today and that's "dechurched." Those are the people who've been forced out of their churches by all this Purpose Driven, New Age stuff and are so discouraged they've given up on "church" altogether.

Anonymous said...

If you spend a million on adevertising and you increase your membersihp by a 100 in a year. then that averages to 10,000 a person. Would it be more effective to say I will pay you to come to church for an x amount of time if you are a non church member and get better results for the same price. Some are saying how dare you pay people to come to church. But we are paying people to get people to come to church when we pay for advertisement. One way you pay people and they don't hear the Gospel and the other way The person hears the Gospel and has some money to pay bills or eat when they leave. Who knows some of that might end up in the plate.
Pastor Chris

tikatu said...

Okay, just a couple of comments here.

Richard Byrd has a point. Sometimes a church who wants to let their community know what's happening in their fellowship is unaware of new methods that could accomplish that goal. Or, something they're doing at the moment isn't working, and is instead offending people and driving them away. But the pastor/elders can't see this because they're too close to the matter at hand. Even a church member with the background in marketing and communication might not see this, because they're too close to the subject.

This is where a fresh pair of eyes outside a particular local assembly can be of valuable use, especially if a church is small and doesn't necessarily have the laypeople who can, say, build an elegant, eye-catching website, or write a compelling press release. An outsider can look at a church and their ministries objectively, and help the pastor/elders make wise decisions, showing them the most effective (and cost-effective) ways of reaching out to the community through media.

I'm not saying that a church needs to spend huge portions of the budget on such a consultant, but there is a place and a need for such a service. If there wasn't, it wouldn't exist.

As for the word "unchurched", I've always thought that meant a believer (like myself) who wasn't involved in a local assembly, for whatever reason.

Lydia said...

Have you guys read "Quitting Church"? Ironically, the authors found it was the believers leaving the churches. They could not stand the shallowness anymore. Many are meeting in homes or groups. Many are looking for other serious believers who want to develop their spiritual gifts with other believers.

There is a big move afoot with this. Most people just do not know what to do because they are stuck in the 'go to a building and let them preach to me" mentality. But many are waking up. Jon Zens has been a great resource for those who feel this way.

Check him out at searching together.

Richard Byrd said...

Thanks FBC Jax Watchdog for your kind comments as well as your explaining your church doctrine. Although not Southern Baptist, I was raised Baptist.

I definitely understand the animosity towards consultants.

However I don't see the difference in what I do vs. the church having a leak and calling a plumber - or wanting to build a new building and needing an architect.

I provide my services for free to my church home even though I have moved 1000 miles away - So it is about ministry.

My fundamental belief is that no one or entity should have better representation in and to the world than Jesus. There shouldn't be more people going to McDonald's than attending church.

The majority of my clients are not mega - ministry and don't have a director of communications. We fill that need for them.

Thank you for telling me what the average "pew sitter" is thinking. I will pass it along.

@pastor chris - I agree I think the average church spends too much on "ineffective communications".

So a church is charged with spreading the gospel, reaching people with the message of Jesus Christ, and caring for the sick and helping the poor. They are to minister to people and spread the gospel.

I am in the reaching people with the message of Jesus Christ, business. That's the section where we come in.

Moses needed an Aaron to communicate the vision God gave him. Thanks for the feedback - it helps me grow and stay on the narrow path.

Richard Byrd said...

As for the word "unchurched", I've always thought that meant a believer (like myself) who wasn't involved in a local assembly, for whatever reason.

See I would want to know - why you are not involved in a local assembly. and present that to a local church and say - hey why you are fussing and fighting about whether you should have a consultant, choir, music, website, or any of the other hot debate items. There are people who -
1. don't know Jesus
2. Know Jesus - but won't come to church

And what are we going to do about it.

Anonymous said...

"However I don't see the difference in what I do vs. the church having a leak and calling a plumber - or wanting to build a new building and needing an architect."

Toilets stopped up are spiritual problems?

"My fundamental belief is that no one or entity should have better representation in and to the world than Jesus. There shouldn't be more people going to McDonald's than attending church. "

But there will be if the full counsel of God is preached. The Gospel is offensive. And it will empty pews if preached consistently. Jesus said: You must eat my flesh and drink my blood. And many turned away.

I have lots of experience with mega and seeker churches and the one thing they do well is to keep the Gospel from being the least bit offensive. And that will fill the pews.


"Moses needed an Aaron to communicate the vision God gave him. "

Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within believers who can then communicate the vision Jesus Christ clearly left us. It is a work of the Holy Spirit. Not communication or marketing consultants.

Matt

Anonymous said...

"As for the word "unchurched", I've always thought that meant a believer (like myself) who wasn't involved in a local assembly, for whatever reason."

You mean like the person who made a profession of faith when they were 10 and are now 40, has no manifestation of fruit of belief, not going to church or gathering with other believers?

Those unchurched?

Hint: They were never saved to begin with. And it is to my dismay that many just like this will live thinking they are saved. And many of the churched think they are saved because they go to church.

"See I would want to know - why you are not involved in a local assembly. and present that to a local church and say - hey why you are fussing and fighting about whether you should have a consultant, choir, music, website, or any of the other hot debate items. There are people who -
1. don't know Jesus
2. Know Jesus - but won't come to church"

If they really know Jesus Christ, they are worshipping, praying, reading the Word and cannot help themselves from doing so.

What you are describing is how most mega churches are built. On the felt needs of the 'prospect'.

Matt

tikatu said...

"As for the word "unchurched", I've always thought that meant a believer (like myself) who wasn't involved in a local assembly, for whatever reason."

You mean like the person who made a profession of faith when they were 10 and are now 40, has no manifestation of fruit of belief, not going to church or gathering with other believers?

Those unchurched?

Hint: They were never saved to begin with. And it is to my dismay that many just like this will live thinking they are saved. And many of the churched think they are saved because they go to church.


No, Matt, I mean like the believers who find that the church they are going to is in the orbit of a fundamentalist university and must kowtow to the university's views or lose half its congregation as it is blacklisted. The believers who find that their church puts doctrine of separation on the same footing as the deity of Christ. The believers who are having trouble finding a church where they're not judged for the clothes they wear or the music they listen to or a dozen other different things that are matters of Christian conscience. Where the amount of money they make is not an issue. Where a particular version of the Bible isn't put on a pedestal. But a church that still proclaims the gospel of Christ, preaching from the Word of God.

I'm talking about those unchurched, Matt.

Anonymous said...

"No, Matt, I mean like the believers who find that the church they are going to is in the orbit of a fundamentalist university and must kowtow to the university's views or lose half its congregation as it is blacklisted. The believers who find that their church puts doctrine of separation on the same footing as the deity of Christ. The believers who are having trouble finding a church where they're not judged for the clothes they wear or the music they listen to or a dozen other different things that are matters of Christian conscience. Where the amount of money they make is not an issue. Where a particular version of the Bible isn't put on a pedestal. But a church that still proclaims the gospel of Christ, preaching from the Word of God.

I'm talking about those unchurched, Matt."

Friend, I was addressing Mr. Byrd. And I am sorry you took offense. You might not understand that I have hired many a consultant in my day to reach the 'unchurched', so I have a different view.

We have to make distinctions between a building, an organization and the Body of Christ. What you are describing above is an organization that is specifically organized to benefit the ego's of a few and control others.

The Body of Christ is not what you describe above but seriously, it does describe the behind the stage inner workings of most seeker churches going after the unchurched. They usually refer to them as nickels and noses.

Unlike the Fundamentalists (big F), they hide it better. And someone coming out of a Fundamental organization would find comfort there because it is mostly shallow and focused on supposed felt needs.

Anonymous said...

The Laodicean church is described as having plenty of money and goods in the book of the Revelation, yet God spews it out of His mouth. It lost its first love...spreading and preaching the gospel, but it has committees, meetings, and marketing of its resources for whatever pleases the pastor.

And think that these large buildings are only open 1-3 hours out of 168 hours each week if then.

We must remember one plants and sees nothing, another waters and sees nothing, BUT GOD GIVITH THE INCREASE. Whenever flesh gets into a church only disaster occurs. Question!! Where is the fruit? If it is not being produced its as bad as the dead fig tree!!! I don't mean great "crowds" that just want entertainment. By fruit, I mean SAVED SOULS!!!!! Someone said worse and worse, you haven't seen anything yet...great tribulation is just around the corner and all these guys can do is play church with their cronies.

tikatu said...

Matt, I accept your apology. I did want to point out that you quoted my post in your reply to Mr. Byrd. That's why I felt you were responding to me.

I still believe that, sometimes, someone who is outside the church, but still a Christian, can help the pastor/elders of a church make wise choices on communicating with the community.

Anonymous said...

Rhichard,

I commend your efforts to reach Jesus Christ. I just struggle for profit when it comes the spiritual part of the church. When a toilet is clogged you call a plumber or the Pastor can grab a plunger and give a try first. Basically that is a facility upkeep. What I trully struggle with is we have something the world needs, which is Jesus Christ, it should not boil down to supply and demand and what the market will bare. I am sure you are good at what you do. I will encourage if you don't already to use your gift and talent for all churches even if that can not afford your services.
God Bless my Brother,
Pastor Chris

Anonymous said...

"Matt, I accept your apology. I did want to point out that you quoted my post in your reply to Mr. Byrd. That's why I felt you were responding to me."

I did? I must be having more senior moments.

"I still believe that, sometimes, someone who is outside the church, but still a Christian, can help the pastor/elders of a church make wise choices on communicating with the community."

We overcomplicate things and have for a long time. The wise choice is to witness. The Holy Spirit gives the increase. Inviting them to events, parties, etc., confuses the message. Fellowship is with believers in the Body. We can fellowship wiht our neighbors who are not believers but it is not the Body.

Question is: What are we trying to save them to? Christ or to visit a church building? Another notch on the evangelical belt of counting converts?

Matt