January 26, 2009


So I'm reading the headlines in the local paper "Consumers cut back, retailers overhaul business" by AP writer Anne D'innocenzio.  In the article I see the following quote "For years retailers could afford to be sloppy about running their business because customers kept buying.  No More"  I kept reading and found out that retailers are having to make "drastic changes" in order to get and keep their customers.  Things like hiring outside experts, holding special events, and making extraordinary efforts to gauge customer satisfaction, as well as sales clerks checking back in with customers to see if they're satisfied with their purchases.  Millard 'Mickey' Drexler, J.Crew's Chairman and Chief Executive and former CEO and Visionary of the Gap, Inc. says "WE ARE IN A SEA OF CHANGE."  

With the economy the way it is, the retailers are realizing that in addition to not selling their customer products which are inferior, they also can't "push" what they want to sell onto the customer by whatever means they are most comfortable with.  Retailers understand that even with a great product, they must listen to the customer to hear and understand their needs and then work hard to show their products relevance to those needs.  Once the customer has their product, the retailer must follow up with the customer to see if they're still satisfied...

I see parallels in this description of the retailers "overhaul" of their business in these turbulent times with the God's church.  In a sense, the church has been like the "old" retailers.  Despite having a great product (the love of Jesus Christ) the church has been very narrow in how they have gauged the needs of their community (mission) for their product, as well as failing to "follow up" with the communities satisfaction (nurture) of those who have chosen their product.  I think that just as the retailers need an "overhaul",  so does the church.  

"The love of Jesus Christ" is something that all people not only need, but deserve.  The church sometimes functions in arrogance, thinking that there product requires that people come to them, rather than taking their product to the people.  Acting as if the church can be "sloppy" in their efforts and presentation of "the love of Jesus Christ" and that people will still be drawn to the church because of their need for the product.  

The sad thing is that most of the people who need "the love of Jesus Christ", aren't coming to our store (the church)... rather, they are using inferior substitute products, and have been lied to by our competitor (Satan) that the substitute product will do the same thing that the "real" product will do... without all the hassles and "red tape" involved in the church.  

And for those who have our product , "the love of Jesus Christ", for some time, Satan is working daily on trying to convince them to trade in the churches product for something similar (which is the inferior product) that requires less effort to use and understand.

It's time for an OVERHAUL.  We need to make extraordinary efforts to hear what people are needing in their life and then show and teach them how the "Love of Jesus Christ" can meet that need.  We need to be sensitive to those needs and meet people where they are, not condemning, but helping to bring hope to lives again.  The Church needs to "live life with people"
not just "tell" them how to live life and then step back and watch.  Life is an individual journey that is best when shared with others.

And to those who already have "the love of Jesus Christ", we need to listen and understand where people are struggling and then join them in overcoming their struggles.  Individual struggles, shared by the church, the people, in our efforts to help others sustain hope and faith and develop perseverance that will lead to overcoming their struggles.

We are in "a sea of change"... God is still God, Jesus is still Jesus, the Holy Spirit is still the Holy Spirit, and the Bible is still the Bible... Our product has never been better, but the churches methods of sharing our product need to change to meet the customers needs... just like the retailers in these times, the church needs to "make drastic changes in order to get and keep their customers"  It's not the product that is in need of change, it's perfect...but the methods of the church???

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  Give me a shout


  1. Totally ON POINT preacherman!! The church has become lazy and expect God to do all the work. How can the lost be found if not reached. We as christians tend to forget that living out christ like does not all depend on faith. James 2:17 tells us that faith alone without works is dead. Personally I do not see many works of outreach to the lost. James 2 later on tells that Abraham's faith and actions were working together and his faith was made complete. Later on in the scripture it says that Abraham was a friend of God. We should all ask that if we were in front of God face to face, would HE call us HIS friend.

  2. My short answer is yes.

    My longer comments...

    Many people are uncomfortable with the 'consumer/product' terminology when it's applied to the church - and in many ways they're right. God's love for Creation is not a commodity to be exported. It's not something you swing by a local church on Sunday morning to pick up your supply for the week. It's an invitation to live in a relationship. But it is helpful, though, to make use of marketing language as we look for compelling ways to show people the truth of God's love.

    I think the "need for an overhaul" is not as recent as the economic situation we're currently in, and I think the needed "overhaul" has been happening, little-by-little, in small ways for years now. And I think it's a good thing. It's a necessary response to changes in culture.

    Just as the first century Church had to figure out what it meant to live as Jesus followers under Roman government and Jewish religious influence; just as the advent of the printing press revolutionized communication and changed the availability of the Bible; just as other significant changes in history have come along, the Church has continually sought ways to "go and make disciples of all nations... teaching them to obey all" Jesus had taught. As cliche as it may sound, the Internet has changed the world we live in. The availability information, the global connectivity of people, and the volume of our entertainment are just some of the ways that our world has changed in significant ways in the last twenty-five years. Historically, about every 500 years the Church has undergone intense renovations, much in response to cultural shifts, and I think we're in the midst of one of those times.

    SO... I think that Church marketing (visible, remarkable ways of showing God's love) can be helpful in gaining someone's attention, but in a world that is not at a loss for information, presenting information is not enough. It's about (and maybe always has been about) where that information is coming from, or rather WHO that information is coming from. And that's where we see the importance of relationships in ministry. Call it customer service, call it followup, call it incarnational ministry... whatever... but it is important to consider how God's love is presented, and then how that's lived out in context of relationships -knowing and caring for people.

    The message doesn't change, but the means of communicating that message must change. And I think the best way of communicating God's love with people, here and now, is not through force (think Crusades) or cultural institution (think government backed religious systems) or through only intellectual arguments and information (think the Renaissance and the Enlightenment), but is best communicated through personal relationships expressing the love of God.

  3. Great post J-Man, and gaining the attention of a world that has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) makes our jobs a leaders even more critical as to how we present the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

  4. HA82 you make a great point. SO what are 'works' we can do that enhance our faith...and thus make us complete?