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Sunday, February 13, 2011

LX. Ozzy Chewed Off Bat Heads

Ozzy Osbourne used to bite off the heads of doves or bats. KISS wore make up. Bill Clinton said he was black and played the sax on the Arsenio Hall show.  McDonald's has Monopoly.  Geico has that stupid little gecko and thise even more inanely Twilight Zonish excerpts on saving money in only 15 minutes.  And then you have those free credit reports that make you pay a fee to actually get the free report.  Or electronic stores saying that they are having a 25% off sale only to come find out that they had raised the prices 26% before the sale event happened.  What is it about gimmicks, limericks, dumb hicks, and risky shticks?  Well, they work!  But how long does the effect last?  Eventually the person falling for these things has to find out one day if the product that suckered them in was worth anything or if it was just all hype.  Sure word of mouth is good for business and it brings people in but if your product is lousy you can have all the Hollywood endorsements you can get, all the catchy jingles you can think of, and all the funniest commercials one can come up with and it will still be lousy, like anything David Hasslehoff sings or acts in.  On the other hand, does McDonald's really need monopoly to get people to eat there?  Uh, no, as long as their fries are cooked correctly and not limp then they will always be at the top.  So if what you are selling is good and/or even perfect then why do you need a gimmick?  So if that is the case then why do churches feel the need to do things like businesses?

That brings us to the poll from last month:  Should Churches use gimmicks to bring people into the doors?
  • 50% said No. There are more important things for the church to be doing.
  • 22% said It doesn't matter if they do or not.
  • 13% said Yes. But only to get people to hear the word of God.
  • 9% said No. It is very un-Biblical.
  • 4% said Yes. It is a good technique.
  • 0% said Other.
If you add these together, 59% said something is wrong with this type of activity.  22% said it didn't matter, and  only 17% said it was okay to do and more than half of those said only to get people in the doors.

First of all what kind of gimmicks would churches use?
  1. "Come on in and get a free sin".  Well, probably not, although that is what the Catholic Church did for a long time with the idea of indulgences.
  2. "Come on in and play pin the tail on the devil.  Have some fun while you put the blame on where it belongs".  Sounds good but what does it prove?
  3. "Come on in or we will come to you".  Enough said?
But there are some real ones and some quite serious ones that are being used in the Church today.  It used to be free concerts and/or festivals.  But now it is free donuts and coffee.  Charity funds with membership.  Win a car (seriously!).  Silent auctions.  Passion plays.  Some churches have even gone the casino route if you will, making bets but calling them challenges instead so as not to confuse or offend those who think betting is a sin.

Where is the line that is drawn? There isn't anything dramatically wrong with a friendly bet but when you use to it promote your church or to raise funds in a non-steward way, wouldn't it become wrong? Just because the money may be used to help certain groups of people, it should not be the focus. If we really wanted to help people then why doesn't the church staffs take pay freezes, or have messages from the pulpit be more about giving from the heart!  Is there something fundamentally wrong here or is this making it into something larger than it is?  The problem is the 17% who believe nothing is really wrong with this type of activity is the leadership.  A great person once said, the church is only as strong as its leaders.  If the leaders think that the Word of God has to be watered down to gimmicks then it is no wonder why atheism is growing faster than Christianity.

Now, it really isn't anti-scriptural as 9% said.  There is nothing in the Bible that says we can't do these things.  Paul even states that he didn't care how the message was brought to the people as long as they heard it.  But, he probably didn't mean that we should offer free coffee and donuts as a substantial gospel message segway.  Wow, donuts and salvation.  How could you lose?

Why not have something called "split the pot"? You go to church buy a ticket for $5 and get a chance to get half the tithes and offerings.  That would really bring people into church. A chance to win money and be saved! Even better than donuts.

All Jesus told us to do was basically lift Him up.  So maybe gimmicks aren't all that bad.

9 comments:

hawkssong68 said...

Ah...the old "attraction" versus "promotion" conflict!

Once the smoke and mirrors are taken down, you best be left with something....

Felicia Follum said...

I think that I am neutral in the sense that I agree and disagree (not that I am apathetic). Some churches, Lutherans for example, use coffee and donuts as a integral aspect of community. On the other side using emotion and fear to save people drives me nuts.

http://sckrlgn.blogspot.com/2011/01/coininia-room.html - The Coininia Room

Gozreht said...

hawk,

That is one of my main thoughts! What if they decided to no longer serve dounts or heaven forbid run out of donuts?! Would there be enough substance for people to stay around? The real answer is yes, of course there is yes, but Christians have pushed so many people away by their life style and witnessing that non-believers think Christianity is just a bunch of freaks and hypocrites no better than the average pagan. Maybe donuts is a good thing?

Gozreht said...

Felicia,

True! But there is a big difference between fellowship and ministry. Many churches use gimmicks and call it a ministry. Fellowship is for community. Fellowship is for believers to bond. A ministry is to serve others. Your example of what some Lutherans do is perfectly healthy. I know a church that sends out flyers that has "free starbucks" at the top of the flyer and "relevant messages for your life" at the bottom. Which is more important? Using it as a doorway is okay. Using this as ministry is just...not right.

Using emotion only as a form of ministry is manipulation.

Preach the real gospel. Live an exemplary life.

Thank you for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the church you are thinking of have softball teams being used at an outreach program? Hmmm??????What's the difference? Didn't they and you use this to bring people in to hear the word of God?

Gozreht said...

Anon,

You are correct. The church did use and perhaps still does use softball as a outreach ministry. But there is a couple of things that makes the difference. #1 The church never made softball a priority and especially never put it on the flyers as something people should expect or know about the church. #2 It was more of a fellowship time to be a witness to those we did try and win for Christ. All donuts do is make people gluttons :) #3 Softball was off the church grounds and only included those who wanted to do it and was not used as "part of the program". #4 Softball was not used as a way to fund the church. Just the opposite, the church paid for it for a long time.

Da Pilgrim said...

Thought provoking topic there Gozreht. Lots of grey areas I think.
I do find it interesting that Jesus almost tried to put people off from following Him. For example he told them to count the cost of following to see whether the building was able to be completed and yet we try to buy people into the church.

However there are others that I know that give out free sausages as an example or starting point to talk to people about the free gift of salvation. I've been there and people are usually shocked and asking why they are for free! Good starting block for conversation.

But it can be seen in different ways I guess.

Gozreht said...

Okay as a starting point or ice breaker it really isn't that big of a deal. Sure we all need fellowship and time to get to know each other but when it becomes the top of a flyer as if it is the main reason to show up then what happens when the donuts are gone? How many people would leave if there was a donut shortage? I just hope once the church got the people there that they actually can and WILL teach them.

Thanks my man.

Da Pilgrim said...

I agree mate.

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