Tuesday, March 07, 2006
"Is it Wrong to Market the Church?"

John Frame is stirring the pot again, this time with his article, "Is it Wrong to Market the Church?" Arguing against David Wells and others, Frame sees no inherent problems in marketing the church. He examines appealing to "felt needs," advertising, communicating our message, etc.

While I have the highest regard for John Frame, I really think he has "missed the boat" on this one. After all, what is the church? The church is to be comprised of regenerate, baptized believers of Jesus Christ (I am aware that Frame's Presbyterianism may lead him to disagree). In light of this understanding of the church, what is the purpose of our corporate gathering? It is not evangelism; it is worship. We sing, listen to the proclaimed word, pray, practice the ordinances, have fellowship with and edify one another, etc., all to glorify our Lord and Savior. In essence, church is for the "called out ones," those called by God and who have faith in Him, the elect.

Whenever we target the lost and unregenerate, we misunderstand the purpose of our corporate worship. It leads us to market ourselves to the fallen world. We sell out.

Should we reach the lost? Absolutely. Should we market the church to reach them? Absolutely not.
posted at 9:45 AM  
Comments (6)

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can appreciate the need for churches to be thoughtful of how they present themselves to their community. What I disagree with is the board comment "what is the purpose of our corporate gathering? It is not evangelism; it is worship."

If this is true, then are you saying that we should not encourage people to seek forgiveness, repent from sin, and accept Christ as savior on the church campus? What about events/programs such as VBS, Christmas Eve services, Easter services? Should we just have an event for edification of the body of Christ? If so, the church becomes a stagnant, "country club" of belivers. Luke-warm comes to mind.

In my opinion, I think we need to realize that in general people don't find church relevant in their lives. Why? A number of reasons of course. But with a promotion (marketing if you will) of the church we can/should effectively say that the church is alive and well here in the community. Define who we are, what we believe. Tell people what actually goes on behind the brick and mortar. Encourage unbelievers to look to God as their first choice, and not their last option.

If this is the wrong assumption of the quote, please clairify.

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Jeff Downs said...

I like Frame as well and this will only distance himself from those Presbyterians who don't care for him anyway because of his book on worship. Some tend to throw all his writings away, but Frame has some great thing on the Doctrine of God and ethics.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Amen brother.

At 10:57 AM, Blogger johnMark said...


What is the definition of "church" as used in the New Testament? You say you disagree with the stated purpose of corporate worship though offer no affirming statement of what you believe its purpose is. What do you believe is the the purpose of corporate worship? Why? Hint: Start by answering my first question above.

"Church" is not about showing people how church is relevant to their lives. It's about believers being conformed to the image of Christ. No matter how relevant a church makes itself appear, if the accepting public still doesn't believe they are still on the road to judgement. The church in Acts was feared and revered not relevant. We need to get back to that example.


At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that you can say God is either relevant in your life or not - wither you are "saved" or your are not.

Johnmark, of course, the church is made of believers. And what are the believers supposed to do (collectively and individually) simply stated, our purpose in life is to honor and worship God, and obey. I have a problem with the original post saying "It is not evangelism; it is worship." For most churches, the church collective operates during the week. Do we just sit around until our next "worship" gathering?

Now back to the issue of "marketing" for the church. To me it's simple, never forget it's about eternal souls. So with everything else in this world demanding our attention why can't the church be proactive in sharing the gospel and inviting people to church?

I guess I'm saying we have tools, technology, gifts, etc. to get the word out. Even if it's stapling signs on a telephone pole, we can't be slow to advertise, promote, market, whatever you want to call it.

Now the collective body of the church can be used as a vehicle for evangelism, and should. Otherwise, let's do the New Testiment thing and only meet in homes. But since we have a building and a campus, let's use this tool. Make the tool effective. It's really not that complicated.

At 7:24 PM, Blogger Puritan Fan said...

John, I have come to love your blog, you have a lot of good stuff. But I beg to differ with you on this point.

Frame may differ with you significantly on the definition of the church, I will not attempt to answer for him. But, on the surface, I think most of my Presbyterian friends would simply add "...and their children" to your definition of the church.

Without much thought, my mind races to thoughts of people coming to faith by hearing...and through the foolishness of preaching. I'll bet most preaching today gets done in a church. What's wrong with turning on the A/C if it entices some lost folks to sit under the preaching?

The gist of your post seems to be that the church is for believers only. And the true church is made up entirely and exclusively of the truly regenerate. But I must ask why a church ceases to be such on account of "marketing" itself to a lost and dying world.

The definition of marketing may the rub here. I firmly believe that the preaching of the word cannot be compromised by a true church. If the gospel is warped in an effort to attract the lost, then that is clearly wrong.

But as long as the word of God is not compromised, I think I'll continue to "leave a light on for them" and welcome the lost to sit under the preaching and teaching of the word.

Thoughts from a reformed Baptist.


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