There are identifiable factors which are contributing to lower and lost church attendance and membership. We may disagree on how strong each of these influences is, but I believe you will agree that they are operating.
#1) “Brand Loyalty”* Has Eroded: There was a time when people identified with a denominational gathering or assembly.
Loyalty was strongest when it came to being a Protestant or Catholic. Loyalty was even stronger between Christendom and other non-christian religions.
However, today — a loyalty to Baptist, Presbyterian, Luthern, Charismatics or non-charismatic, “Methodist” has eroded. The obvious proof of that reality is the trend in adopting the term “Community” — “Faith Baptist Church” is now “Faith Community Church” – or even “Faith Community.”
#2) Distinctions Between “Brands” Has Blurred: What distinguishes this religious assembly from that assembly has been blurred and may even be unknown.
There are two different trends. One of the trends is that the statements of faith or beliefs have been blurred. They have been shortened and/or generalized.
Though the changes usually do not affect Who Christ is, the Trinity, Salvation by faith alone. Though, even these foundational areas of doctrine are far briefer. Nevertheless, a church’s stand on eschatology, church government, or the activity of the Holy Spirit today begins to resemble a far more doctrinal absence of explanation.
The other trend is that the members are more and more unsure as to what this-or-that assembly believes, or even what they believe.
Interestingly, part of the inviting message of a church is that this-or-that assembly is distinctive in what it offers.
But what is distinctive is not in doctrine or teaching,
but in how you will feel, enjoy, or benefit.
#3) A Saturation Of “Brand” Messages: Who isn’t sending out LARGE postcards during Christmas, Easter, VBS, Special Days, Christian Educational Ministries, etc.
PROOF: The rapid success of such companies as “Overnight Prints” — “Vista Print” — “The Mail Shark” — etc — in the religious world.
These promotional companies have sprung up with intensity and profitability because it is easier than ever to send colorful, enticing (maybe questionable on that level), large, winsome invitations.
One almost wonders why the success of such promotional card companies in a digital-social-media-world! With all the other options — Facebook / emails / Instagram / Google Ad Words, why is snail mail even used any longer?
Suggested Answer: A drive for saturation requires getting your message into the hands of those who do not use and/or respond to these other popular digital avenues!
These three factors force some, and maybe many ministries to be out there “fishing all the time” (I’m not referring to soul-winning, but fishing for more “members” and/or attendees (or payees).
And such “Full-Time-Fishing” pushes ministries to . . . .
• hire full-time social-media-promotional personnel
• spend more and more money, on more and more advertising options — some of them very expensive — and unproductive if you really don’t understand copywriting • hire full-time audio-video staff
• fulfill the promises made in the advertising (spoken and unspoken) by constantly upping its game this week again by having this-or-that.
• professionalize more and more areas of church ministries that used to be done without charge on a lay level — There was a time when musicians, pianist, organist, music leaders cooks, nursery workers, etc. — volunteered their God-given abilities.
Let me ask this question again . . . . .
Can you build a church on good-to-great preaching alone?
That really is what people are looking for in their lives — a message which speaks to their heart and mind in order to live for our Lord another week in a fallen world!
Your greatest strength is found in the pulpit and in your ability to be effective in communicating biblical truths and principles.
If you haven’t heard this example, you need to! It proves the point that you can build a church with good-to-great preaching!
* I use the word “Brand” rather than “denominational” because today it is really about “brands,” not denominations. I understand that will upset some! Today it is not about “Baptist” or “Methodist” or Presbyterian.” Churches are no longer divided up that way. No longer are churches named after key or great biblical terms — Faith / Berean / Grace / Temple / Agape — but the Willowcreek model / the Stanley model / Bill Hybles model (ugh today) / Calvary Chapel model / Harvest model (ugh today).
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