(And yes- Ed Young is the guy famous for driving a tank onstage while preaching).
1. Everything wrong with video venues collected in one neat package.
2. The logical conclusion to where video venues take us- large churches franchising in every big "market" in the states. It's coming- mark my words. And it is a net-negative for the Church as a whole for many, many reasons
This is expansion gone amuck- not driven by local growth and a desire to continue as one body in many locations. This is the full abandoment of the "one church in many locations" logic and the complete embrace of franchising. Consumer church meets American Marketing meets the Franchise. Church in a Box.
We've all railed at church-as-business for a long time. Here's about as perfect an expression of it as one could hope for.
From the September issue of the Creative Leader Newsletter, some of the more disturbing aspects of marketing this...
We knew that direct mail in Miami would have greater potential impact than in other regions where the church advertising market is more saturated. To coordinate with our Miami campaign of Refuel, Refresh, Redefine, we sent out a direct mail piece that visitors could Redeem at the church for a $5 gas card.
I generally hate the "bribe people to come to church" thing. It's crass. And don't you dare compare $5 gas cards to Jesus feeding the five thousand. I'd have to hit you.
I hate the bribe. But when you combine the bribe with a new franchise from a church a thousand miles away? And when you combine those things with the competition-oriented language of markets and saturation? I feel a blood clot working its way towards my brain...
We’ve used the questions people ask us to guide our marketing. We noticed that many of the people we talked to in Miami asked us, “What kind of church is it?” So in our promotional materials and signage for this campus we’ve added the fact that we are a Christian church.
Oh, my head...
We know that our overall vision for this environment will take time to achieve. But we are taking immediate, easy steps (and lots of volunteer elbow grease) to upgrade the campus by planting additional landscaping and applying fresh paint. We’ve brought in some more modern wood tables for hospitality areas. We’re adding music, Cuban coffee and local pastries to create a welcoming atmosphere. And we’re fanatical about keeping the facility sparkling clean!
Oh... Well as long as the correct values are driving things...
The write up of this concluded with this paragraph:
"What has all this done for Fellowship Church Miami? Well, the grand opening had over 600 people in attendance in their two Sunday services. Read back through the highlights and notice the little but important details that show they sought after the best methods to relevantly reach the Miami community without compromising their brand."
Cause if there's one thing you don't want to compromise, it's your BRAND
I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry... I know I'm channeling the worst of the watch blogs here, but seriously...
This trend is not going anywhere good. Many are doing it for the right reasons- Darrin P gives as good an apologia for this kind of thing as I have heard, and those who do it out of desperation and lack of options because God is blessing with growth shouldn't be lumped in with those who pursue this as a freakin' marketing strategy...
You know, there's methodology and there's principle in ministry. I'm a huge believer in whatever methodology works... except when it violates principles. And THIS, in my opinion, crosses the line.