I have never been big on church marketing. It seems funny to use consumeristic means to entice people into Christ-centered community…which, if we get it right, is often counter-cultural, costly and unpredictable. Slick marketing campaigns hardly ever capture that. For some reason, although we know better, we still try to paint a picture of “church” that is a quick fix, problem-free, one-size-fits-all place. This may be why so many have left the church, bitter and disillusioned because they expected one thing, and were met with another.
Church can be a difficult place (downright mean at times). We’ve all heard the stories of exclusion, fundamentalism and abuse that have happened in the name of Christ-centered community.
Perhaps, this makes telling counter-stories even more important.
People need to know that there are alternatives. They need to know that there are groups of people gathering around scripture and asking honest questions. They need to know there are people re-imagining the role of church in the neighborhood. They need to know that there are people seeking to practice the way of Jesus together without the need to cast judgment on their neighbors.
For those involved in ministries of faith sharing and church starting, telling our stories is more important than ever. With all of the social media tools at our disposal, there are also more means to tell our stories than ever.
So, how will we do it? What tools and resources will help us invite others into communities that are imperfect, yet bring hope and the opportunity to be God’s transforming presence together?
We would love to hear how your community is doing this. Share an idea, a resource or a story to help us learn from one another.
Susan Rogers is the planting pastor of The Well at Springfield in Jacksonville, Florida and the mission community facilitator for the CBF Mission Community for Church Starts & Faith Sharing.