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Selling Out the Church: The Dangers of Church Marketing Paperback – July 24, 2003
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About the Author
(2001) Philip D. Kenneson is Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Milligan College near Johnson City, Tennessee. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This book is a reminder of the Church's important role of being a sign, a fortaste, and a herald of Christ's Kingdom, and explains how our willingness to accept cultural trends keeps us from realizing this God-given task.
They do a fine job in sorting this out. I use several quotes from them in my book of a similar vein, Testing the Claims of Church Growth.
One of the exceptional elements of this work is their focus on the destruction of the transcendancy of God. Reading this book will inform if not transform many fliring with church marketing, i.e. CG.
Kenneson and Street boldly declare that the Church's major problem today is that we simply stop looking at the Church as just another business or non-profit organization, and rather look at it rather as a (kingdom) community that God's calling to be a sign, a fortaste, and herald of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because the Church is not just another organization is why baptizing business philosophy and marketing strategy into this community fails. For the underlying principles of business marketing strategies are different than that of the foundations of the kingdom of God.
Marketing stratigies foundationally are ultimately geared around the self-interest of the business as well as the consumer. The business says to the consumer, "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine." The consumer then looks at the business as just another commodity.
Such a mentality is contrary to two key principles of Christianity: servant-hood and giving. If the church attempts to reach out to others only so that it may profit (e.g. growth), then the church fails to truly give and fails to truly serve. Because ultimately, when it serves and when it gives, strings are attached. The same can be said concerning the consumers mentality, which is one of "church shopping."
Also, another problem of church marketing is that those who advocate marketing are fixated on numerical growth. For ultimately to them, it is the only way to plot the success of the mission of the church. Kenneson and Street powerfully asks, what if the mission of the church is not to grow simply in numbers, but rather, what if the goal of the church was simply to manifest the fruits of the Spirit as seen in Galatians 5? Church marketers would shutter at such a thought, for their is no way to translate such things into numerical data. While the authors do not out right say it, but I believe it is hinted at between the lines: ultimately we cannot measure church growth through "scientific" methods, instead, church growth must be measured prophetically.
This book was very difficult to find, as it is out-of-print (at the time of this review), however, it is without a doubt a must read for all church leadership.
My only problem with this book is that while it offers a great deal of criticism concerning marketing, it does very little to suggest what must be done in light of this criticism. Even the authors admit this in their closing remarks, however, they do encourage us to seek from God the vision to shape our community.
In their follow up volume, Kenneson and Street would do well to bring onto their writing team a pastor who shares their passion for the church but brings with that passion a commitment to manifesting counterculture outside the walls of seminary.
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"The church has no business asking unbelievers (ie consumers) what they would like in a church, for the church already knows...Read more