Truth in advertising

Yesterday I was talking to the kids about how we would be going to Grammy and Pop Pop’s church the next day, and I told them about the other kids who would be there, the toys they could play with, the snack they would have, etc.
Mercy paused after my enthusiastic explanation and asked: “Are we going there to worship?”

While that had been the last thing on my mind as I talked to my young kids, I answered her: “Yes, Mercy. Yes, we are going there to worship.”

I thought back to all of the church-planting training I sat through at various points and realized that the way I went about describing “church” to my kids is a bit like how we were told we should share about our churches in a given community. Upbeat music. Great kids programs. Starbucks coffee.

I remember last summer driving past two churches on the same block and I could not help but notice the stark contrast in their signage. The first was what I have come to expect. Big, colored banners proclaimed: “Come to our Celebration Service at 10am. Contemporary music, relevant teaching, etc….” The second read in simple font: “Weekly Celebration of the Eucharist, 10am”

The first sign, fully of happy fonts and graphics, assured me that I would celebrate, and the word there suggested something like a birthday party with games and cake. The second sign also used the word celebrate, yet with such a different sense as to what that means.


  1. Hmmmm…. I’ve been mulling this over to a certain extent lately. The situation in the United States, especially in the suburbs, makes churches look for how they can attract members by offering better goods and services. A different perspective might be that of a parish church that actually tries to serve the real needs of its immediate community. But then, that’s pretty much what you and yours have been doing for a while, right? 🙂

  2. Maxie Dunnam, former president of Asbury Seminary, said this in a sermon during an ordination service: “Activities attract people, but Obedience attracts God…and when God shows up….”

    I’ve been reading a book, Shopping for God, and it speaks to the marketing of the church. I’ve posted a couple times on my blog if you want to get an idea.

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