I’ve just finished reading Selling Out the Church: The Dangers of Church Marketing, and I think it provides a helpful warning to churches who want to grow. Philip Kenneson and James Street say that church marketing does more than change a church’s style, but their substance as well. Because church marketing defines the purpose of the church in terms of attracting the surrounding community, the market oriented church focuses on effectiveness and customer satisfaction, rather than what the vision for what the church ought to be: “a sign, a foretaste, and a herald of God’s present but still emerging kingdom.”
To be true to its nature and purpose, churches should stop thinking attractional (“Come and check us out”) and start thinking missional. In a post-Christian culture where many have no understanding of the basic Christian message and do not identify with the traditional Christian subculture, churches are forced to step out of their buildings, and take the Gospel into their diverse communities. Some of Jesus’ most revealing interactions are not with the temple authorities, but with the Gentiles, the poor and the outcast. The Kingdom of God typically lies outside existing religious structures.