Americhurch at it’s Finest

Heading over to the NinjaNun site (as a I do daily), 1) because she is the one of the few ladies that mixes it up here with the boys on a regular basis, and 2) she is actually one of the brightest and best writers here in the blogosphere and 3) her site is like a daily cornucopia or buffet – each day is a surprise but never disappointing.

Anyway, today she posted the above advertisement from her current/former church and then proceeds to critique the hell out of the thing, pulling no punches along the way. She slices and she dices and most importantly, rips the at the heart of the matter with her normal wit and wisdom. You should head over there immediately and read what she writes. It’s damn good!

Now, I have been guilty of pulling such events like this one. In my past as a pastor I have directed events like this with the intent of reaching people for Christ. Back around 1986 as a youth pastor in Texas, a revival came to our church and I was in charge of “pack-a-pew” night where we tried to get as many kids and families in the church as possible. With my promise of a free dinner and a give-away of a Sony Walkman to the teenager that brought the most friends, I was able to get over 150 kids “packed” into the pews. I was applauded for my efforts.

That was the beginning of my “gimmicks for Jesus” pastoral life. Over the years, the prizes got better. One year, I gave away the chance to win a “brand new car”. All you had to do was show up, sign your name to be on our mailing list and you won the chance to throw a frisbee through a hoop from 75 feet. If you did it, you won the car. Man, was I edgy. (And for the record, no one ever won).

It’s nice to know that things haven’t changed much in 20 years.

Is this what we are supposed to be about in our churches? I don’t think most pastors I hand this too would have a problem with this churches promotion. And there’s the problem. As Ninja says, “Ask a fish about the water surrounding them, and they’ll reply, “what water?”

And while they ask that question, the rest of us are drowning in it.

14 thoughts on “Americhurch at it’s Finest”

  1. I read the “fish/water” concept in a book about Quantum Physics and Black Holes. Hate to admit I read it there, but it does make me sound either really smart or extremely boring–neither which are true. It is regarding the concept of nothingness and that the fish is as unaware of the water they live in as we are the air we live in… until we remove that air or the capacity to get it…. then we become quite mindful that nothing (i.e. air) is in fact a very important “something”.I just thought it was appropriate for this as well. And I still like it…. and your use of it in this context was perfect.My mistake for missing that this is not from your previous church. Uh, that is in the first paragraph… duh. And I get frustrated with my 11-year old for not reading thouroughly enough for comprehension. Oh well.

  2. <>And this time I will overlook the “But then again, I am not as old as you…” comment. I know it is just a statement of fact, but it didn’t do much for my ego.🙂 It’s all good…. glad to have your comments. Looking forward to the dialogue.<>While I realize that this thread is not about the subject of age, I do believe it is written law that no-one over the age of 40 is legally permitted to use the phrase, “It’s all good”.just an observation…🙂

  3. Wow, Steve, you really did these things for the church. No wonder you left. I have seen glass eye miracles to teliphone book ripping, to bring the people in, but not frisbee tosses. Thank God I have found a good church, I hope you do too.

  4. Great post, Steve, and thanks for the buttery-goodness of all those compliments. *blushes* Flattery is not the only way to my heart, but it sure does brighten my day.Two things: 1. That flier is NOT from my former church, which I thought I made clear on my own blog (although I wouldn’t put something like this past them–they’ve done VERY similar things in the past, and when the Pete and I left, they were all set to do more like this).2. I can’t take credit for the quote about the fish, I got that from a commenter over at < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Meg’s blog<>. I highly recommend her blog, as her (feminist) voice is worth listening to, as well. We should all do our part to woo her over here to the SCP discussion, as well.Thanks for the link to my blog, Steve!p.s. to Zeke: I am not being coy, I’m just lazy.

  5. I have been checking this site for a while now but this is my first official comment. I think the issue of luring people into church all comes down to motivation. It is true that Jesus does not need X-boxes, gift certificates, or “bribes” to work in people’s lives. But if a church uses these things to truly attract someone who would not otherwise come to church, I am willing to overlook that. This technique may attract materialistic people but Jesus wants us to come to Him as we are, not as we should be. It will be difficult for this church to switch and say, “now that you are a follower of Jesus, you shouldn’t be so materialstic” but if their motives are sincere (a big IF) it can proabably be done. I went to my first church event when I was younger because my mom made me go in exchange for letting me go to a Motley Crew concert. This first event did not radically change my life but it began the process opening my eyes to spiritual things (other than Motley Crew). Paul said in Philippians 1: 18, “… in false pretense or true, what matters is that Christ is preached”. It seems to me that this church ultimately will be judged by God over their motivation. Are they attracting Christians from other churches, greedy church kids, or people who might never even consider going to church? Although this idea doesn’t sit well with me, I think God can use it for good. In fact, I wouldn’t mind getting an X-Box… maybe I will go.

  6. But Sofyst….Youth is wasted on the young. Now is the time for you to be radical. Seriously, life is like a pendulum…. or maybe it is just me. For me it is about balance. Trying to get back to center without losing my mind.And this time I will overlook the <>“But then again, I am not as old as you…”<> comment. I know it is just a statement of fact, but it didn’t do much for my ego.🙂 It’s all good…. glad to have your comments. Looking forward to the dialogue.SC

  7. The Nun rocks.By the way, I have been trying to get her on Godscrum but she’s either being coy or shy. Start a groundswell, people. If she won’t listen to me, maybe she’ll listen to you.

  8. I am sure that you and I would have the same disagreements with the modern church.I am not sure I would be as radical as you in your approach to handling the church’s heresy.But then again, I am not as old as you, I have not been affected by the church’s stupidity as much as you.Love the site though. I try to check it often.

  9. It’s been a while so I guess I should post my thoughts before Dorsey thinks I’ve gone missing again. LOLPromotions or events like this really confuse me. It seems rather contradictory to the message of the church. I thought the church was there to help you strengthen your relationship with your family, learn how to love each other more, learn how to be like Jesus and serve people as He did.Well what bigger family holiday is there than Thanksgiving? A time to gather with loved ones and appreciate each other, and share our messages of what we’re thankful for. It’s a time of true fellowship, serving others, eating, drinking and being merry. You get to OD on Tryptophan, always a bonus, but thanks to the FDA I only get to do this twice a year now), damned government jackals! Leave my supplements alone!!! Sorry, moving on, then the whole day ends with a big nap! It’s the perfect holiday. But apparently the church doesn’t want you to be with your family on that day. No. You have to come to church and spend it with us, your “real family”. The whole idea just irks me. I mean it’s one thing if the church would open itself up to people who don’t have a place to go or any family and were sending out the message of “be with people who care about you. No one should be alone this day. Free food and drink. etc.” Or there’s always the old standby, of closing the church on that day and having the people who don’t have family or the people who want to actually serve go to the homeless shelters or food drives and banks. It just seems so hypocritical to me. There I’m done ranting now.

  10. I agree with you Ninjanun. I was actually going to use the “free drugs/beer” analogy to attract people… Which, based on the group I work with, sometimes I think someone is giving them free drugs to get them here.

  11. <>“now that you are a follower of Jesus, you shouldn’t be so materialstic”<>And that’s a big thrust of my point, Ryan (great thoughts, btw). It’s a pretty big IF that the churches who do this style of “marketing” will make that leap. One of the biggest problems with Americhurch (in my opinion) is that they don’t even acknowledge materialism as a problem, either in church or in the world at large.Plus, IF they did recognize it as a problem, why would they promote it in the first place to get people in the door? It’s a bit like a church who is against drinking offering free beer in order to “get people in the door.”Probably the biggest problem I have is with the theological bait-and-switch going on. Americhurches tend to present the gospel and Christian lifestyle as if it’s so easy; just come down here and say a little prayer, and as long as you MEAN it, you’re in! And then as you get further along, they bring up one or more (usually more) of the following: oh, and you need to read your bible everyday; oh, and you need to tithe 10% plus love offerings; oh, and the really good disciples come every time the church doors are open; oh, and you need to serve in some capacity in the church; oh, and you need to be attending or leading a bible study; etc. Being a Christian, following Christ, is a serious commitment. Those who want to do so should be able to count the cost beforehand, instead of being given this free and easy version of the gospel (if you can call it that) when they first come to church, and then only later (sometimes much later, sometimes not at all) do churches get around to that whole “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me” part.

  12. Sir, you do not speak ‘sofyst’ very well.When I say I am not as ‘old’ as you, I am speaking to age in degrees of maturity. The older a person is (according to this standard) signifies that they are very much more mature than the immature ‘youth’.So in actuality it was a great compliment. I was complimenting your great maturity in the faith and in all wisdom and knowledge.You’ll get the hang of it. Although you may be very wise, ‘sofystry’ is mui confusing.😉

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