This week saw the start of the summer series of Theology by the glass, now meeting at Confusion Corner Bar and Grill, just around the corner (sort of) from our most famous street sign. Our first conversation of the season began with a CBC podcast of The Age of Persuasion where Terry O’Reilly discusses church marketing and related matters.
We got onto a number of topics and tangents, most dealing in some fashion with church advertising, marketing the church, and the purpose of the church. As well as the church’s branding problem and the consumer-driven mentality that perpetrates all this. In essence, the church is now reaping what’s been sown by educating its consumers on how to select a local church. This implies an individualistic faith that selects a church to fit each person, who is the center of attention in this equation. Lately I’m noticing this phenomenon a lot, and have begun to see how it developed and is perpetuated. A lot of what’s behind it is the same as what’s behind the economic meltdown, at a fundamental level. I actually enjoy digging into this kind of “systems thinking” that looks for root causes of current ills in an effort to understand and change some of the small practices or basic assumptions made long ago that have begun to have detrimental effects. Although these practices seemed innocuous at the time, their continued use has caused them to become so ingrained that it takes a lot of re-educating and reshaping of ways of thinking in order to begin to reverse their effects.
A small conversation brushes against a large idea, and leaves one musing almost endlessly and beginning to see new connections in a myriad of places. I love that… if only I could begin to express some of it. We’ll see what germinates over the next while and how well I can write it down. And relate it all back to the Cluetrain while suggesting that an ecclesiological meltdown is on the way unless radical reform is undertaken soon. The Western church has already had and squandered its $9 Trillion bailout, and there’s no more coming.