Saturday, August 13, 2011

You Gotta Have a Hook

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I don't like church marketing.

Marketing the church (trying to make it into something attractive for those who are not in it) is, as I have noted elsewhere, trying to sell something that's not for sale. And in many (if not most) cases, these marketing strategies direct us to all the things not needful.

Most church bodies market themselves these days,it seems. As east-coast American folk singer Jon Gailmore once sang, "You gotta have a hook to have a hit." And it seems the "hook" is different for different church bodies. Catholics tend to use guilt as their hook to get folks to come to church (hardly effective in this day and age if you ask me). Evangelicals tend to use "relevance" as their hook. Lutherans like the "Word alone" approach - which as far as I've ever been able to tell is not even Scriptural, funny enough. It seems that the Orthodox gravitate toward either sappy emotionalism or bookish fantasy/mysticism hooks (among other things).

But at least the Episcopalians call it what it is: The Church Ad Project. Anyone who has worked for any Christian church for 25 years knows that they make the best use of witty and clever pop-advertising (though who uses posters anymore? I can only hope that these days they've moved from posters to email ads or at least something people actually see). I still look at their catalogs every once in awhile for a good laugh. But in a way, that's precisely the point - and precisely the problem.

I don't do much blog-reading anymore (or blogging, either, for that matter), but having awakened way too early this morning, I thought I'd have a look at a couple of blogs I haven't visited in awhile - including this one. And I must say that I loved his post about kitchy church signs, most notably, this comment:

"If Jesus were to appear before you in all His glory, you would not greet Him in a relaxed manner. You would not call Him your Homeboy. You would not point to Him and say "there's my co-pilot." And you would not try to make him laugh by exercising some terrible pun as His majesty shone around you.

Instead, you would fall on your face and wet your pants. Because our God is a consuming fire."

Exactly. And if the church - any church - were really honest, that's the sort of thing they'd put on their church signs.

But I'm guessing that's not going to happen any time soon.

Thank you, Pastor Feine, for this reflection (and the entertaining little vid!).

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