If hype is unproductive, like I’ve been arguing, what do we replace it with? If I’m really convinced that most of our marketing and posturing adds unnecessary offense to our churches rather than make them more welcoming, how do we counter that? I don’t think I have all the answers. (Young men in general and specifically young seminary graduates like myself fall easily into the trap of thinking we have everything figured out. There may be no fool like an old fool but there’s no arrogant know-it-all like a young arrogant know-it-all.)
My remedy is that we take what some might consider a negative and make it a positive. Killing your advertising? Tell your congregation that you’re doing it and why you’re doing it. Make it a group rallying cry that you’re going to eschew Madison Avenue and embrace relationships based upon love and respect. There’s a better way to introduce people to our churches.
Do you know why you can’t get coffee here? Because I’d rather you pick it up on the way in where you know your barista’s name.
That’s what Christians ought to be doing. Go to Starbucks or your local coffee shop of choice and tip well. Don’t sign up for the “church fitness center”; join a real gym and get to know people. Let your kids play sports through the YMCA instead of the church league. Cut the fluff out of the church for the sake of your congregation being involved in their community. Don’t just say, “we don’t do that stuff,” instead, have a reason why you don’t do that. There’s something better than letting our churches turn into yet another hyped-up consumer enclave.