Part 2: what Is the Church and What Does It Exist?
Now that we’ve established what the church is, we have to take a moment to look at the problem of advertising door prizes.
Our entire culture is designed to attract us to something and sell something to us. Corporations spend billions of dollars to learn exactly the right words to make you buy their product. Marketing and advertising is a billion dollar industry centered around attracting and selling. From television, to the Internet, to billboards, you can’t go an hour without seeing an ad for something. When the church engages in these tactics, it cheapens grace in favor of enticements.
The church is the most expensive purchase in all of history. The bible tells us that Jesus bought the church “with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). The grace that has been poured out on the body of Christ is priceless. When we seek to entice people through the doors of our church with cheap attractions (like door prizes), we cheapen that priceless grace and the Gospel of Jesus.
We might be tempted to think that this is just the world we live in, this is the way things work. But the church of Jesus is supposed to be “in the world, not of the world.” When we resort to the same tactics used by corporations seeking monetary profit, we no longer stand out, we’ve blended in. An old adage says “what you save them with is what you save them to.” If we seek to reach people with the Gospel using anything more than Jesus we are in danger of presenting a false Gospel that will produce false converts.
It’s easy to see that many false converts have been created in America. People believe that because their parents went to church, their name is on a church membership roll, or they were born in America, that they are a Christian. These false assurances of faith did not come about by properly sharing the Gospel with people. Many of these false professions of faith came about by using marketing tactics, door prizes, and other business practices to appeal to the emotions and “evangelize.”
Further evidence of how many false converts exist can be seen in statistics showing the number of self-identified Christians that cannot articulate their beliefs, don’t share their faith with neighbors and friends, place greater importance on recreations and hobbies than church attendance, and rarely pick up their Bible or pray. When these things are mentioned, the defensive response is often accusations of legalism and being judgmental. That also shows a lack of spiritual depth and formation, as these things are the basic commands of Scripture for the believer.
“Be ready always to give an answer…”
“Go into all the world…”
“Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves…”
“Study to show yourself approved…”
“Pray without ceasing.”
The fact that anyone would consider it “legalistic” to hold another believer accountable for being a faithful follower of Christ and adhering to the commands of Scripture is further evidence of watered-down churches. This cultural Christianity will soon separate the sheep and the goats as being an authentic Christian becomes harder.
In many ways a separation of sheep and goats has already begun. Cultural and nominal Christians are leaving their watered down churches because they aren’t getting anything out of the “religious experience” anymore. In other words, the glitz and glamour are wearing off. The culture that endlessly cries “what’s in it for me” has infected the church to the point that those churches have created religious consumers. Once their appetites are filled or bored they move on to the next thing.
This reality underscores the critical error of using door prizes and other cultural marketing ploys to entice people through the doors of the church. Oh, you might get them there. And you might even have the chance to share the Gospel. But without ears to hear and eyes to see those efforts will have little impact and result in frustration for the church.
What is needed now, more than ever, is Jesus. People need to be told of their sin, understand that they deserve God’s furious wrath and His eternal judgment. We also need to know that there is nothing we can do to change our position before God. We can’t earn, work, or buy our way out of God’s wrath. We also need to hear that God’s wrath is both good and loving. God’s wrath is the holy response to our sin. God’s wrath is the holy response to our rejection of Jesus. God loves His Son and us too much to allow our sin to go unpunished. And for those that God gives the faith to believe and accept the Gospel message, there is hope for salvation. We also need to hear that the Christian life is hard, that we are called to die, and that we will face trails and persecutions daily. We need to hear that our sin nature and our new nature will be at war with one another for the rest of our lives. We need to hear that we cannot continue in our sin and remain in a right relationship with God and our church family. This is the Gospel message and this is what people need.
This Gospel should be at the center of every main worship service of the church. Jesus told us that when He is “lifted high, I will draw all men unto Myself.” He did not say anything about door prizes and marketing campaigns. When the church accurately and authentically exalts Jesus and His Gospel we are fulfilling the primary function the church was created for. When we sincerely worship Jesus, praise Jesus, and teach the doctrines of Scripture (all focusing on Jesus), we are being the biblical church the Bible has called us to be. When people are drawn, by the Holy Spirit to Jesus and His Gospel they will receive the ears to hear and the eyes to see that can result in saving faith. When people are drawn by marketing and door prizes we actually create roadblocks that will stand in the way.
People need Jesus. People need the church. People don’t need door prizes.