In promoting herself, the church is first acting in obedience to Christ to make disciples, to tell others about Christ and to serve the world. What then is the goal of promotion in relation to these activities? We must know our goal if we are to be effective in using our resources to promote the church.
First, realize that the goal of promotion is not to grow the church. More specifically, pushing for numerical growth for the church through promotion is unbiblical. In Acts 2:42-27 we see the function of the early church and can use that as a clear example of Christ’s intent for our role in the world today. They worshipped, the had fellowship with one another, they prayed, they served each other and they met the needs of those around them. This passage ends with an amazing statement: “…and God added to their number…”
As we undestand from scripture that it was God who grew their number, we must realize that growth, in and of itself, was not the church’s goal–it was a byproduct. If it were a goal, then God could have clearly stated it, as He did in Genesis (“be fruitful and multiply”) or Acts could have delineated their growth activities.
In our culture we have flipped this upside down and made the byproduct of growth the goal. Other activities of the church are then altered to serve that goal. It’s like a farmer trying to make sunlight. He has all of these other aspects of farming over which he has control–soil, seeds, irrigation, pest control, crop rotation–and yet he puts his energy into the one thing he cannot control. In the church, when we pursue growth, we are placing our aim on the one thing that God tells us He will provide, instead of concentrating on the other aspects of ministry to which He has commanded us to partake in.
The result is that we will adjust and change our worship, or ministries and our activities as a church to suit our tastes, our agendas and our schedules. So, in an effort to bring more people in, we focus on what we want, because those we want to reach, we reason, are largely like us. In the end, a church that pursues growth will end up with a room full of marginally-committed people worshipping themselves.
The goal of promoting the church is to inform and inspire believers and non-believers toward Christ and obedience to His commands, using various forms of media. Promotion, then, takes a back seat to the core functions of the church as we see modeled in Acts 2. It is a supporting element–a set of tools and strategies we use within our media-rich culture. As we use media tools, we do so in the context of a biblical model, and focused on biblical goals:
We want people to know God’s Word, and to see their lives in relationship to it. The church revolves around God’s Word–our knowledge of it and obedience to it are a core function of the ministry of the organized church. Promotional avenues and media can help us learn God’s Word, share God’s Word and obey His Word in a variety of ways, from print media to video to websites to social media and more. Creative support too can help make God’s Word come alive as we organize and theme our teaching to be more impactful and communicate across multiple media.
We want our congregation to be informed as to the opportunities for service available to them. Promotion especially helps us here, in that our culture is very fast-paced. Even modest-sized churches require some degree of media to help their membership keep up with what is available to them as a part of the church organization. And here again the ability to organize communication across multiple media means that opportunities are communicated in various ways–print, online, fax, video, word-of-mouth–consistently and in a timely manner.
We want the chuch to be equipped with tools to share the gospel, locally and globally. Most of the time when we talk about tools to share our faith, we are thinking of media tools. These are often difficult to produce on our own–but a communications ministry can provide practical help to believers in sharing their faith. It might be as simple as a printed tract, or an emailable event invitation, or as complex as translating and disseminating Bible teaching materials in multiple languages around the world.
Author: Eugene Mason, Communications Director for Cross Pointe Church under the leadership of Dr. James Merritt.