Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Evangelism Paradigm

I had an interesting sales call from AT&T today. The lady on the other end of the line wanted to sell the church yellow-pages advertising, both in the "big book" and on the internet. She had tremendous statistics about how many people in my area have searched on the yellow-pages site for churches, baptist churches, spiritual guidance, etc.

I told her I was not interested. I do not want to move money from the church's bank account to AT&T's bank account in an effort to move people from some other Baptist church to this Baptist church.

For one thing, a simple Google search of "Baptist churches canton ohio" instantly yields over 49,000 hits. In spite of the fact that our church's name begins with "W" we are the third church listed. Go figure. I am not convinced that someone who is "looking for us" on the internet will have any problem finding us.

But my objection goes much deeper than that. Advertising ourselves as a "Bible Believing, Bible Preaching Baptist Church" (or something along those lines) is not going to attract the people we want to find. The paradigm is wrong from the start! The only people who would care about those descriptors - or others like them - are people like us. And people like us are already going to church somewhere else.

Too many of the churches around here depend almost entirely on putting down other churches in their efforts to attract new people (or keep their current people.) They cite everything from Bible versions to music styles as reasons you should attend their church instead of the church you are currently attending. (Why are there so many churches around? Mainly because there are so many people - ignorant about the Bible, theology and church history - who think they have discovered some new secret to Christian orthodoxy. They must, of course, start a splinter group and that group grows up around that factor until someone in their group splinters off with some other "new" thing.)

I am not interested in advertising to people who already believe like we do. Evangelism is not about luring sheep from other sheepfolds to ours. Evangelism is about reaching new people with the Gospel of Grace, seeing them converted by the power of God, then discipling them through preaching and teaching and the life of the church.

I would rather have five people added to the church by biblical evangelism, than to have five hundred people who are think of themselves as "consumers" and who are shopping for the perfect church. Such people will soon be unhappy here (we are not perfect by any measure) and they will move on to greener pastures.
(1 Corinthians 1:18–24) ¶ For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
20 ¶ Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom;
23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,
24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 comment:

Irv Cobb said...

Well said.