"...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, June 13, 2011

What Has the Church Marketing Gotten Us? Declining Membership, Fewer Baptisms

As the 2011 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting convenes this week in Phoenix, Arizona, news reports are out describing how the SBC continues its gradual decline in just about every ministry statistic.

The picture at left of what has become of the FBC Jax high school ministry is a perfect picture of this. Just a few years ago a choir and orchestra of 250 + is now down to maybe 50.

In the SBC Baptisms are down 5% over last year, giving to missions is down, and the number of missionaries sent has decreased.

It is not all bad news. After all, the number of churches is up, and FBC Jax has new pews and carpet and a new stage, and FBC Dallas is collecting millions to build a brand new Crystal Campus and a computerized waterfall to "architecturally" lead people to Jesus while they pray over their vial of holy ground dirt for God to bless their new campus. I'm not making that up, either.

In this age of church marketing consultants and generosity consultants, we have to ask: where are the results for all the money spent? Why are our pews emptying? Why do fewer people want to come to Southern Baptist churches?

Wade Burleson has written about five factors he sees leading to the rapid SBC slide into irrelevance, including the heightened demand of doctrinal conformity on secondary issues and the demonization of those who disagree with baptist leaders.

Megachurch pastors often blame shrinkage in their congregation on God, saying it is a "cleansing" of the church, unfaithful Christians who are leaving because they just aren't committed enough to the Lord. Others say it is the stingy people in the pew who don't fork over enough money for the professional men to spread the gospel.

Christians are seeing their churches - and not just of the mega variety - become businesses run by CEO's and their marketing consultants, with budgets focusing on salaries of professional religious men and buildings. They are seeing their pastors misuse the bible to beat up the sheep and absolutely demand 10% minimum of their household income to feed the administration-bloated budget. Instead of cutting salaries and becoming more financially transparent, they hire "generosity consultants" to squeeze the incremental nickels from the noses in the pew, and to teach their staff how to go after "high capacity people" to fund the "business".

People are taking SBC pastors less seriously these days, as the line blurs between the teachings, tactics, and lifestyles of health and wealth televangelists and SBC mega church pastors. They want their seminary PhD's and MDivs to mean something, yet they don't hold each other to basic standards of professional accountability. Liars are still ordained and in the pulpits, and there is no system to track and discipline pedophiles in their midst and care for the victims - but they take strong actions against churches who might hire a female pastor. And they can pass resolutions against the evils of blogging and unjust criticism.

I say the cleansing might not be God clearing out the unfaithful from the pew - they are fine as they realize they don't need a seminarian to save them from their ignorance and they find other ways to worship with believers - but it might be the unfaithful "God-appointed agents" about to be cleansed from the pulpit as the SBC decline continues.

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

You really are obsessed with FBC Jax aren't you? Why don't you write about your new church and quit writing and posting pictures of your old one.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. That FBC picture looks just like what I experienced when I went to your fellowship recently, Dawg. Must be affecting them and other churches across the country also.

I don't think it is a marketing problem as much as something else.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Great comments to start it off - can't discuss the issues, just have to focus on the one comment about FBC Jax and call a blogger "obsessed". It never ends.

Sharon said...

Do mega-churches outside the SBC use marketing consultants? I wonder if it helps them?

I think maybe it's the product that's the problem. As I've said, I grew up Baptist and now attend a UU church.

I think certain brands bring certain things to mind.

For me, "Baptist" means:
old hymns that I love
sincere, sheltered people
conservative
emphasis on correct doctrine
AUTHORITARIANISM
dogmatic
rigid
old-fashioned
out-of-style
dowdy women
polished women leaders
not curious or open to the views of outsiders
set in their ways
invitations (ugh!)
overweight
attending services very important
preachers that yell
stereotypes
non-modern

Now I'm female and 54 yrs. old, so a teenager or people with young children could give different feedback maybe.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I doubt the places will be cleansed of the mega pastors. You will always have those who think pointing this stuff out is an obsession. It makes them feel better for following the charlatans.

Recently, a friend of
mine attended a mega church service where the numbers were dwindling. The charlatan got up and said the "real' Christians showed up.

That is how arrogant they are . And what is scary they have followers who actually believe the same thing. When in fact, many true believers are leaving because the Holy Spirt has convicted them it is nothing but a show with the pastor the overpaid ringmaster.

Anonymous said...

"Do mega-churches outside the SBC use marketing consultants? I wonder if it helps them?"

Oh sure. The mega house churches in China use them all the time while they are being persecuted for their faith. How else could they grow? The Gospel is not enough, you know. It needs help.

Anonymous said...

Nothing replaces the door to door, relationship to relationship witnessing and sharing Jesus. Yes the church building should look good as a testimony to Jesus, but at what cost? $3.5 million when the economy is terrible, people are out of work, missionaries are struggling, etc.

Having been at FBC prior to renovations, there was nothing wrong with the building.

Sad to see such a great ministry as that of the high school ministry dwindle down to what it is, but what would you expect when its not the focus of the church? Local ministries is not the focus only the national platform of the convention, IMB, etc.

Reaching the lost one soul at a time should always be the focus!

WishIhadknown said...

Amen to that my brother/sister

hopeandfaith said...

Why are people leaving???? Because they are not in agreement with what is going on...At one Baptist mega, the pastor wanted to actually build a place for prayer...think of it. Spending money on a special place to pray when people are suffering all around us. What must they think when they see beautiful buildings and all the comforts therein while they struggle to put food on the table....Where the money goes shows the true measure of a church.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:50am

Obviously this blog has become #1 read by Christian believers by the thousands! There's no obession when truth is spoken - the picture of FBC and the dismal attendance is shown to the public prior to the W/D's posting. People like you are very thin skinned and probably very naive about the history of FBC.

Thanks W/D for anothr well written article.

Anonymous said...

The church has problems therefore:

1 - It is due to a pathetic pastor who makes to much, cares to little and preaches to meanly.
2 - People who stay are ignorant pew sitting kool-idd drinking mindless men followers.
3 - They can't keep the spiritual members who walk out and take their well placed, wisdom living, spiritual discernment with them. What can be left after the spiritually inerrant members leave?

Since yesterday was the anniversary of Reagan saying: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

We now have bloggers saying: "God, tear down that church!"

Anonymous said...

Ironically mega churches, those with consultants and marketing gurus, make up a very small percentage of Southern Baptist worshippers. Those churches have not grown, but they have not slipped either. That is still where the growth in baptisms take place.

The sad thing is that it is the medium and small churches who are bleeding out, around the tune of 10-12% the past five years in attendance and baptism. I believe these are the churches that refuse to change and thus are just burying more and more of their old membership each year. So many of those church have stuck to their guns on old time hymns, pot luck dinners, tie/suit, and old time religion and it has lead to very steep declines.

The two areas of growth in the SBC? Church plants with casual worship and relationally driven Gospel approaches; and the Cowboy Church with casual country western music and the Biblical Gospel.

The area of zero net is mega churches and the area of massive decline is small/medium Baptist Churches.

I share that to just bring the balance.

Tyler

Sharon said...

Is it that those who are already Christians are switching from small/medium churches to larger churches? Are any people coming in to Baptist churches from other denominations?

Are any denominations growing, or just the non-denominational churches?

Anonymous said...

From someone who grew up Baptist and is now Methodist, I can't say that anything different is happening in the UMC. Membership has declined and our churches are, well, old (avg. age is 62). Recently, there has been a "call to action" by church leaders to get the church out of institution-mode and back into a more easily-moved and invigorated state. We'll see.

I will say that we don't have as *many* mega churches, but we do have them (Adam Hamilton at Church of the Resurrection in Kansas, Highland Park UMC in Dallas, St. Luke UMC in Houston, etc.)And you bet your boots they have marketing consultants, PR staff, and professional graphic designers on hand for anything and everything. Some of them (namely Adam's church) do an AMAZING job at connecting with their members and are in a continual growth state. Others, not so much.

I will agree that marketing is a pretty shallow and ineffective method to attempt to keep and gain members in a radical way. It may work in the immediate sense, but your church has to be about something more than promoting a flat, shallow image of happy, perfect, wholesome people. Young people, especially singles like myself, are kind of over that.

Anonymous said...

Churches have become increasingly irrelevant for a number of years now. The problem is preachers and "hanger-on" want to blame the people that realize this, and areleaving by the boat loads. They certainly find no fault in themselves. Preachers have set THEMSELVES up as the final authority in all spiritual matters. When actually they are the most needy of recipients of Grace. Having been in a mega church during what I refer to as the "Glory Days" when the word was preached, not used as a club to beat the people up, when people were the focus, when Jesus was IN CHARGE, when people were coming to Jesus for salvation, not to a country club for social and business contacts. I can tell you I was led by the Lord to get out of the increasingly hostile and non-spiritual environment. It took me a while to see it, but I finally conceeded that the church was over. Only a shell of it's once vital ministry. I can now say I am glad I left. I am glad our former pastor is no longer here to see the destruction. I miss his commitment to Jesus, his wisdom and his friendship. He loved the people, but he loved Jesus with all his heart. One good thing about Heaven is we will all be together again, not where we should be....at the feet of JESUS.

Anonymous said...

I was a FBC Jax faithful member for 25 years and left 4 years ago. I used to wonder what I would do without FBC Jax. I've moved on and found a small local church I love. Part of me is shocked to see how small the high school ministry has become, but part of me is surprised more people haven't moved on. Mixed emotions.

FBC Choir Member said...

I was in the High School Choir from 2004-2008 and at no time during my tenure did we have 250+ people. Maybe 175 tops. I will agree that it has declined a lot over the past few years. It's really a sad thing to see. It started declining while I was a member and now a few years out it seems like a shadow of its former self. It's a shame because Jonathan Welch is a very talented director.

Now I've been in the Chancel Choir for three years and we are doing okay, but our numbers are down from what they were five years ago. I don't know how many people have noticed, but they took out the back row of pews in the choir loft. Sometimes Dr. Whitmire tells us to "puff up and look big".

Anonymous said...

"Are any denominations growing, or just the non-denominational churches?"

One cannot measure spiritual growth by who attends church.

People assume that those who attend a building are disciples of Christ and have His kingdom within them.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

in Fact, the rotten pharisetical fruit and the wrong focus coming out of these church's proves it. No one who has the indwelling spirit would support it.

Anonymous said...

" Churches have become increasingly irrelevant for a number of years now"

I agree with this if we are talking about what is real church. The building with those who are paid to practice Christianity for us is not the real eklessia. it is the traditions of men and it keeps people spiritually immature.

Anonymous said...

You people really need to read "Atlas Shrugged" and see how similar it is to today's church.

Allen

Anonymous said...

Church marketing has brought us a better dressed Maurilo

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I really do enjoy the fashion tips at his blog. When I need to answer questions like "what is my color", and I wonder when a skinny black tie would be best, or how tight skinny jeans should be, I know what website to go to, or what settings my white belt and white shoes will work...he always has the best tips.

Good stuff...

Anonymous said...

Anonny saith:

"I believe these are the churches that refuse to change and thus are just burying more and more of their old membership each year. So many of those church have stuck to their guns on old time hymns, pot luck dinners, tie/suit, and old time religion and it has lead to very steep declines."

Like contemporary music and relational sermons are the answer to church decline. Pretty haughty stuff to say. You rely on consumer techniques to achieve church growth. Give em what's current, cool and hip.

Shallow lyrics, poorly constructed as a chorus, backed up with a thump and bang band ain't gonna save the church, think more deeply on the root cause of the decline and not make a straw man out of traditional worship.

I just fled a mega church with a ringmaster music man, his little backup singers and electric twanger geeetars. Found a traditional service, its packed and no one is afraid to sing hymns. Go figure.

The classis contemporary: Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes yes yes yes, Lord Lord Lord, yah yah yah.

Just too much cheese with that little diddy. lol.

Anonymous said...

I imagine the search committee feels pretty stupid by now. When Mac Brunson turned the job down the first time they should have left it at that. Maybe we ought to move the services back into the Ruth Lindsay. Does anybody know how many Senior High directors we have gone through since Calvin Carr left.

Anonymous said...

The problem doesn't lie with the methods of a worship service.

The problem lies with the fact that no one is interested in teaching and training people how to connect with people and then invest themselves into someone else's life.

The church was growing only when people were connecting with each other, being good neighbors, having their children grow up with other children, and generally investing their time and efforts into the lives of other people.

Now the church stresses a "Us vs. Them" mentality with the unsaved people in this world.

Unfortunately, the world knows all about Jesus. What the world doesn't know is what Jesus is actually doing in our lives because we don't know what he's doing in our lives.

The flaw in the plan with many of our churches is that they are either forty years behind in their outreach methods or they have swung too far forward with their methodology. Everyone has a multi-step plan to do this and that and that's not what Christianity is about.

Christianity is being a Christ follower and patterning our lives after Christ. Christ invested himself into twelve men.

Look at those results...

Anonymous said...

Check this out. Furtick's church is so typical

http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/distressing-disguise-or-distraction#more-21023

Anonymous said...

Things that are printed or graphically displayed ought to look as professional in the church as in any corporation. While there does need to be some kind of staff to support that effort, it can be done without being exorbitant in cost. Most megas have gone overboard with their creative whims, with little growth result.

All the glitz, such as the dirt vials at FBD, just becomes expensive white noise that people come to expect but do not respond to.

The best "church marketing" that can ever happen is each one of us first taking care of our own families, then engaging with our community and being good friends, good neighbors, good employees, etc.

And I'm talking about "the church" not "a church."

Anonymous said...

FBC Choir Member said... 1.20pm

Having been part of the music ministry at FBC some years ago, I watch in agony the ministry deteriorating. I think the fatal blow was bringing Jim Whitmire. While he was a good director while at Bellview, he was not a good selection after Rodney Brooks. It just goes to show that the focus of Dr. Brunson is not on the music; not sure what he is focused on.

Miss the days of Lynsday when he was focused on reaching Jacksonville. He didn't care about marketing campaigns, neat signs, redesigned stages, etc. He was only interested in reaching the lost, thus the church had phenomenal growth. That is the only campaign a church should be involved in. AND with that kind of campaign you don't need a marketing campaign, huge buidling programs, just christians doing what Jesus said to do, reach the world for the lost.

Our churches regardless of demonination need to get back to the basics of reaching our lost friends, neighbors, coworkers, loved etc!

Anonymous said...

The problem with the church is that its filled with hateful people. Who lie. Bottom line. And the pastors aren't much better. It gives me great pause for consideration these days.

Anonymous said...

anon 11:33am..

Don't focus on them, of course they will lie, of course they will make mistakes, the are sinful people just like we are. The church is full of sinful people. No one is perfect and the only way to get around this is to focus on God, maintaining a vertical focus.

Like Peter who walked on the water and was doing good until he took his eyes off of Jesus.

Keep a vertical focus!

Anonymous said...

Why is Ergun Caner the lead speaker at the FBC Highschool camp? Does not make sense...

Anonymous said...

Why is Ergun Caner the lead speaker at the FBC Highschool camp? Does not make sense...

June 14, 2011 12:48 PM


Answer: Because he is buddy buddy with Big Mac! A liar for our young people - great role model!

Anonymous said...

Let's hope it is Emir and not Ergun. If this is true why does the FBC Jax website not say it?

WishIhadknown said...

Let’s see, rather than work with people to work through our disagreements we tell them, “If you don’t like it, leave” and we wonder why church attendance is shrinking?
Or we have the wealthy guy at the front calling us car thieves and bank robbers because we don’t give enough money to “his church.” Not to mention the complete misuse of scripture to substantiate his claim.
We should not wonder why attendance is decreasing we should be amazed that anyone comes at all!

Anonymous said...

The problem is that fundamentalist are claiming certain things like "baptism" as central for church orthodoxy. Essential I would say as I am a big proponent of emmersion even but I don't remember the Ethopian having a congregation around for his baptism. Also did we not forget that the early church met in places like catacombs. The leaders show no mercy in how they come across and then make statements like like Brunson about the poor economy being due to nontithing.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that Westboro "Baptist" Church could also be a catalyst to this as well.

Jon L. Estes said...

Church marketing has nothing to do with the decline or fewer baptisms in churches across America.

These are some variables:

1 - The "come and see" mentality instead of the "go and tell".

2 - Culturally irrelevant.

3 - Church fights, once inside the walls are now plastered everywhere due to technology. Who wants to go to war, in a church none the less.

4 - A lot of the traditionalism we won't let go of. Yes, sister Susie still tells visitors they are sitting in her seat.

5 - Lack of corporate prayer which is a sign of lack of personal prayer.

6 - No more brokenness over th e lost.

7 - Built fortresses where we refuse to give out the secret handshake to those, not like us or of us, so they can come in.

8 - Doing missions without evangelism.

9 - Busyness.

AND

10 - We have made that which is holy, common.

Anonymous said...

Church marketing has nothing to do with the decline or fewer baptisms in churches across America.

These are some variables:

1 - The "come and see" mentality instead of the "go and tell".

2 - Culturally irrelevant.

3 - Church fights, once inside the walls are now plastered everywhere due to technology. Who wants to go to war, in a church none the less.

4 - A lot of the traditionalism we won't let go of. Yes, sister Susie still tells visitors they are sitting in her seat.

5 - Lack of corporate prayer which is a sign of lack of personal prayer.

6 - No more brokenness over th e lost.

7 - Built fortresses where we refuse to give out the secret handshake to those, not like us or of us, so they can come in.

8 - Doing missions without evangelism.

9 - Busyness.

AND

10 - We have ade that which is holy, common.

June 15, 2011 9:02 AM

Every bit of this is from institutionaliezing Christianity. It is a religion and not a relationship. Just as the Pharisees were religious, so is Jon.

The fact that any believer thinks we need any "church marketing" at all means they do not understand Christ at all. This includes Mac.

Run as fast as you can folks away from guys like Jon and Mac and to Christ. Study on your own and pray. Jesus said He would give us the Best Teacher: The Holy Spirit.

Jon L. Estes said...

"Every bit of this is from institutionaliezing Christianity. It is a religion and not a relationship. Just as the Pharisees were religious, so is Jon.

The fact that any believer thinks we need any "church marketing" at all means they do not understand Christ at all. This includes Mac.

Run as fast as you can folks away from guys like Jon and Mac and to Christ. Study on your own and pray. Jesus said He would give us the Best Teacher: The Holy Spirit."

WOW! I simply say that marketing is not the cause of church decline and as a result I am in favor of church marketing? You are way off base.

With marketing or without, the church is in decline for the reasons I gave and probably more. Marketing has little to nothing to do with it. FYI _ I am not in favor of marketing but will not criticize a church which uses it. That is completely their call, not ours. When you can produce evidence that marketing is sinful, then it might be worth railing against.

Until then it seems you are wanting to find fault, for the sake of finding fault.

Anonymous said...

Interesting Article About Decrease in the SBC:

http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-james-emery-white/baptists-and-baptisms.html?utm_source=Crosswalk_Daily_Update&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=06/14/2011

Anonymous said...

With marketing or without, the church is in decline for the reasons I gave and probably more. Marketing has little to nothing to do with it. FYI _ I am not in favor of marketing but will not criticize a church which uses it. That is completely their call, not ours. When you can produce evidence that marketing is sinful, then it might be worth railing against."

why not outline for us the marketing techniques used in the NT?

Jon L. Estes said...

"why not outline for us the marketing techniques used in the NT?"

That's silly. It is like asking, outline for us the drive your car to church so you can get there need in the new testament. You can't because it isn't there but the tool (the car) is useful in getting around for Jesus. I doubt you give up the comforts of today to be like they were in the bible.

Let's talk message, not methods.

Most churches if not all do some sort of marketing. We are putting in a new sign and it is a marketing tool, of sorts. It is not evil or outlined in scripture.

If marketing is a tool we can use to get the word of Jesus out, what's the complaint.

Do you wear a robe and sandals everywhere you go?

How about dealing with the content of why I said church is in decline. It might be more constructive. Even if you disagree it might be worth discussing.

Anonymous said...

Did you see that the SBC elected an African American to Vice President?


SBC elects African American to Vice President

Jon L. Estes said...

"Did you see that the SBC elected an African American to Vice President? "

Great choice - Great man of God.

Anonymous said...

Great choice - Great man of God.

June 15, 2011 12:04 PM

There are no great men of God. Only depraved sinners saved by the same grace as the rest of us. this kind of thinking has to go. It does not belong in the True Body of Christ.

This kind of thinking is the reason why have so many following humans instead of Christ.

Slow to speak said...

Couple of things...

The High School Choir is low in numbers because they pick out old school music! Our kids do not want to sing that tired stuff.

The churches that are really growing have several elements to them. Haze machines, light shows, and a killer sound system.

You may disagree with me...but go check it out...God does not use what YOU think He should...He chooses what He blesses!

Lastly, Jesus said "Go to the hedges and highways"....that is Marketing! Use Facebook, Tweeter, Blogs, Buzz Marketing, Jesus sent His Marketers out to win the World!

FBC Jax will get back to its former glory when it gets with the program and sheds the suits and turn the lights down and turn the music up...Look at Outreach Magazines 100 largest Churches and then come back and argue with me.

As Henry Blackby said..."see what God is blessing and then do it!!!"

Anonymous said...

How about dealing with the content of why I said church is in decline. It might be more constructive. Even if you disagree it might be worth discussing.

June 15, 2011 11:51 AM

The institutional church is in decline because it is not the Body of Christ. It is an organization that does business. They expect "spectators" to come and pay for the priviledge of watching others worship for them.

That is why you need a new sign outfront and campaigns to get them in. You have a business to build or you have no income. Merchandising the Gospel has become traditional. People actually think it is normal.

People gathered with other believers because they BELIEVED. Not because they were invited to attend so they might believe. We do the process backwards and wht happens is that we sell the attributes of programs, friendships with other people,social function and cool stuff hoping they get saved from it. But what are they saved to in this situation. To following the pastor.

Anonymous said...

Slow to Speak is right.

I am so bored at FBC Jax.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:46,

I don't think Jon was trying to elevate the new VP of the SBC by calling him a "Great Man of God".

I think of that term meaning "Godly, humble, serious about his Christianity, follows his calling, etc" Not that he is somehow better than the best of us. A janitor could be called a "Great Man of God".


Maybe Jon could explain what he meant, but that's how I interpreted it.

Me Too. said...

"Slow to Speak is right.

I am so bored at FBC Jax."

Word on the street that you should go to WBC Jax. That is a hip place and the Spirit is really moving. Hear tell that they are going to two services on Sundays to handle the crowds.

Jon L. Estes said...

"There are no great men of God. Only depraved sinners saved by the same grace as the rest of us. this kind of thinking has to go. It does not belong in the True Body of Christ.

This kind of thinking is the reason why have so many following humans instead of Christ."

I disagree with your position. Scripture speaks of humans being "Men of God" )1 Tim. 6:11).

If it can't be so, then scripture is lying.

Jon L. Estes said...

"The institutional church is in decline because it is not the Body of Christ. It is an organization that does business. They expect "spectators" to come and pay for the priviledge of watching others worship for them."
-

You need a smaller paint brush.
-

"That is why you need a new sign outfront and campaigns to get them in. You have a business to build or you have no income. Merchandising the Gospel has become traditional. People actually think it is normal."

Sorry to see you think a method used to get the name of Jesus out is wrong. I disagree with you. This can happen though when all you have is a wide paint brush.
-

"People gathered with other believers because they BELIEVED. Not because they were invited to attend so they might believe. We do the process backwards and wht happens is that we sell the attributes of programs, friendships with other people,social function and cool stuff hoping they get saved from it. But what are they saved to in this situation. To following the pastor."
-

Again your wide paint brush does not fit all situations. If you look closely your scenario, it harmonizes somewhat with the reasons I gave.

Jon L. Estes said...

"Word on the street that you should go to WBC Jax. That is a hip place and the Spirit is really moving. Hear tell that they are going to two services on Sundays to handle the crowds."

How much of this growth is due to fish jumping from one bowl to another?

Thy Peace said...

NYTimes > Southern Baptists Adopt Plan to Appeal to Minorities

WishIhadknown said...

Not meaning to feed the troll but:

“Lastly, Jesus said "Go to the hedges and highways"....that is Marketing! Use Facebook, Tweeter, Blogs, Buzz Marketing, Jesus sent His Marketers out to win the World!”

No, Jesus sent his witnesses out to testify about what great things God has done for them. Marketing usually includes some degree of deception. The gospel is truth, about the truth and nothing but the truth, no deception is needed or wanted.

“The churches that are really growing have several elements to them. Haze machines, light shows, and a killer sound system.”

So Churches should be like the corner bar?

“FBC Jax will get back to its former glory when it gets with the program and sheds the suits and turn the lights down and turn the music up...Look at Outreach Magazines 100 largest Churches and then come back and argue with me.”

Just because it’s popular does not mean the blessing of God is on it. My question remains unanswered, at what point does a church adopt the ways of the world that it ceases to be about Jesus and becomes about the world?

What is so offensive about people wearing suits? My momma likes me to dress nicely, does yo’ momma like you to dress like a slob?

Jon L. Estes said...

"Just because it’s popular does not mean the blessing of God is on it."

Just because it is popular doesn't mean God's not blessing it.

Thy Peace said...

Wade Burleson > Al Mohler Publicly and Verbally Spanks Peter Lumpkins at the 2011 SBC in Phoenix, Arizona

WishIhadknown said...

I don’t know about that Jon and maybe you can help me out here. I am trying to think of things that are popular and are of God.
Divorce is really popular but I don’t think that’s of God.
Adultery is popular and so is its twin fornication, but God clearly says He’s against those.
Pornography is extremely popular but I hardly believe God is in that.
You might say the newer kinds of music but from what I can tell a third like it, a third hate it and the last third are indifferent. I am not sure a third makes something popular.
I don’t think God is really all that interested in fashion trends after all in Jesus’ day men wore skirts and wearing pants was considered effeminate.
So help a brother out here Jon, what is popular that God is in?

Anonymous said...

Your paintbrush metaphors only affirm that you make a living merchandising the Gospel. Those making their iving from the Gospel are the last to see what is going on out there. You might want to read outside your bubble.

And how many people are at the SBC convention in Phoenix this year?

Let's compare that number to those who attended in the 90's.

it is astonishing. The SBC is not just in decline. It is dying. That is what happens when a group takes it over to have power for their own benefit.

Anonymous said...

The Bible declares that if any bring unto you another Gospel show them the door. Shake your feet off. Just because we have ventured into the 21st century does not mean that the past was a failure. As a matter of fact, if we knew how many were saved in the past compared to the present, I believe there would be a wide gulf, in favor of the "Ole time religion". If you reach that point altogether you will have to admit that the organized church is over and a total waste of your time. I believe both Dr Lindsays had it right...preach the Cross, love the people, and show them the real Jesus not something that has to be marketed. Remember marketing comes with a PRICE!!!!

Anonymous said...

One of the major reasons church is on the decline....people including the pastors do not really believe the Bible. They believe in the originals (which no one has seen) or a better translation. Just flip through some of the major doctrines such as the virgin birth. Several versions say young woman rather than a virgin (Niv 2011). Another one claims that some of the old testament saints rose from the grave before Jesus. He was the firstfruit from the dead not them. They remove the fact than Jesus is God in the flesh. No wonder people and most pastors are deluded. They have no bibles or they have one with holes in it where verses have either been removed, changed or altered and the meaning is lost altogether. God help us!!

Anonymous said...

You have heard "that absolute power corrups absolutely". When the nation is embarrassed or shows hatred toward the Lord Jesus Christ it can expect its own demise. As the churches go so goes the nation. When we start covering crosses, removing crosses from our churches, not allowing prayer in public arenas or reading the Bible why would you expect a Holy God to bless the country. Where are the heros of the faith?

Anonymous said...

I've been reading about all the ridiculousness at the Southern Poobah Convention.

It's a Christopher Guest movie premise, every year.

Jon L. Estes said...

"So help a brother out here Jon, what is popular that God is in?"

First, my point was not that all thing popular of of Jesus but that just because something is popular does not mean it is not of God. There is a difference in the two thoughts.

I'll suggest the example given in this post thread. Using my terms of what was stated, some churches using the methods on the list below, I believe are of God.

1 - Contemporary music with band and praise team.

2 - Innovative videos which are relevant to the culture but solid on the gospel.

3 - Business casual dress on Sunday.

These three things are popular and many are used to glorify God. Some are not. Likewise, some traditional churches which are no longer as popular do not glorify God.

Hopefully the point we can all agree upon is not the method used but the message proclaimed.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the point we can all agree upon is not the method used but the message proclaimed.

June 16, 2011 6:49 AM

The problem is that the method gets too much attention and becomes most important.

AS if the Gospel has no power without the methods.

A good example of this is Caner.

WishIhadknown said...

Jon, just because I ask a question does not mean I disagree with you. Where I might disagree with you is on the idea that one size fits all. Also a case can be made that the things you listed are as unpopular as they are popular. The key is to listen to what people are saying; in far too many churches people are only hearing what they want to hear.

For instance, contemporary music with band and praise team can be an effective tool. But like I said in my previous post almost any music breaks down to a third like it, a third hate it and a third don’t care one way or the other. So having one third like something does not make it popular.

Interestingly, the church I joined after leaving Bellevue had a blended service and a contemporary service both started out roughly equal. The blended service flourished while the contemporary service withered and died. Sometimes we believe things to be true despite the reality staring us in the face.

Like I have said before contemporary music is fine I have been rocking right along with you for over 50 years. At the same time it should not come with the exclusion of what is already here.

One of the things I do not like about some of the contemporary music is that so much of it is just plain bad. It’s like bananas, it comes in bunches and plucked off when needed but one is pretty much just like another. They lack soul.

It would also be helpful if you would teach people the new songs. I cannot tell you how many times I have been in a service where we go from the entire congregation singing an oldie moldy to barely a few dozen singing the contemporary song.

And whatever happened to harmony? That’s a part of music too.

Innovative videos are great if they are as you describe. Many of them, however, are sappy and sentimental and meant to play on emotions and how many times did Jesus visit a beauty parlor?

As far as dress goes, fashion trends change. I am sure you remember a time when a woman wearing slacks to church was considered less than a lady. Is changing fashion “of God?” I don’t know, maybe.

Jon L. Estes said...

wishihadkown -

If what I stated was taken on context to the popular methods stated and the unpopularity comment made, I think my comment makes some sense.

I also understood your question and did not mean to imply that your questions was a sign of disagreement.

Anonymous said...

Not having attended FBC Jax since 2005 sad to see the High Schoolers decline. I remember when they would be featured after a missionary trip and those kids would be on fire. The choir loft would be packed and the music was phenomenal.

What happened?

Loved Calvin Carr. Not picking on FBC Jax, well ok I am. I just remember a vibrant awe inspiring place where we would sing songs as a congregation and I would have to fight back the tears cause the anointing was so strong.

But maybe the body of Christ is being awakened to a challenge of total submission to Jesus. Not by a pastor who is leading by force and arrogant words. These young guys coming along are all about leading like Paul did. They are disenchanted with denominations rules etc.

Some are having to work and pastor. God Bless them because it is obvious they love Jesus. I know of one church that over the Memorial day weekend didn't have a service because they all went to Alabama to help with the tornado victims.

Anonymous said...

This is so sad. Dr. Lindsay, Jr's pride and joy was the High School dept of FBCJAX. He used to love to say we have the largest youth department in the Southern Baptit Convention and we are doing it the old fashioned way.
And it stayed strong under Dr. Vines.
But now look at what you have. A shell of the ministry that it once was. My how the mighty have fallen.
Kyle

Anonymous said...

Hey Guys, I'm a high schooler from the South Campus branch of FBC Jax down in Ponte Vedra that happened to stumble across this page so I thought I might give my 2 cents on the question. First, I gotta say that I concur with Sharon when it comes to the typical adjetives that describe "Baptist." This perception really needs to change if we want to get back to growth...and at least in the South Campus I'm really seeing that. Because we're new and have a heavy demographic of young families + less cranky old people that like things "the old way or the highway" at least from what i've seen we are much more open minded and willing to shake up the semantics of church (i.e. the music, ministries, logistics, etc.) to successfully attract and retain a wide spectrum of people- which we have great success with- while remaining true to the core Gospel message that Jesus charged us to share. So my advice to you downtowners is be unafraid to adapt and evolve the "semantics" but always retain the fire in your belly to spread the Gospel and never be content to rest on your laurels. One other piece of advice, I know this blog is quite critical of FBC and don't get me wrong accountability is great BUT ***attention FBC Jax Watchdog*** be sure criticism is given constructively and that the end purpose in mind to win souls for Christ because every blow a brother deals a fellow brother just makes the body of Christ that much weaker and Satan's job that much easier. Thanks for the forum and I hope my insight was helpful!

Lisa G said...

It's just that you're clearly falling junto the devils trap. You're not seeing the big pic. That Pastor is human, that's the point. God wants us to see him as only a flawed man but a messenger, not a God. He will always show that the nessenger is flawed and never allow us to make them Gods in our mind. Now the devil has got you doing EXACTLY what he wants.

Lisa G said...

Creflo is saying, they are flawed. stop expecting pastors to be above human, they're NOT. LISTEN to what he's Saying. Don't leave your church and all you've learned because of a flawed teacher. If I'm in school learning math, and I find out that my teacher abused children, does that negate what I've learned? He's saying to pray for the pastor and SHOW by forgiving what you have learned!!!!