Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Corporate Christianity (PMC - Part 2)

Recently I attended a fund-raising campaign at our church. The speaker (a consultant from out of the area) spoke about the McDonalds story, and drew some of the following conclusions:

Like McDonalds, we have a product to sell. We need to feed a hungry world, and Jesus is our product. And, just like McDonalds, we need a marketing strategy.

Let me first say that I completely disagree with this statement - I was actually kind of shocked that he said it. However, I think I understand why many churches mimic corporations, using business strategies, business leadership principles, even business organization structures. I think the reasoning goes something like this: If we really believe all this - which is a funny question for christians to ask; does it seem to anyone else like we need to convince ourselves? -
anyway, the thinking goes if we really believe all this gospel stuff, then shouldn't we be doing our best to be excellent? And actually I believe we should - the non sequitur is that we need to be excellent at the same things as the business world - sales, marketing, leadership, etc - when in reality we need to be excellent at the same things that were at the center of the person and ministry of Jesus - graciousness, forgiveness, inclusiveness, justice, and ultimately love. That, I think, is what postmodern christianity is about - finding ways to recapture the heart of Jesus' life and live it out now, in our time and place.

The unfortunate thing about churches mimicking corporate excellence is that it leads to an in-authentic sales pitch type presentation - everything seems "slick" and polished. That undertone doesn't jive at all with the authentic desire of our Lord to see each of his children return to him, no matter what their social or economic situation. The other unfortunate thing is that most churchgoers buying into this misguided corporate philosophy are doing so with earnest hearts and good intentions - they just haven't really thought about it.


Justin said...

What would you say if he substituted the "marketing strategy" with "vision" or "plan"?

I think we're on the same page here. 1) If Jesus is really so important, why don't most people have the fainted clue as to how they are trying to impact the world for Him? (Not even an insignificant business proceeds with the negligence most Christians exhibit regarding the faith.)

2) We're not selling hamburgers here! While we can learn from the business world's attention to planning, we don't plan like they do.

Am I close to what you're getting at? Too bad I live in Illinois - we could probably enjoy some great discussions at a coffee house and figure all this out. (Or at least talk about it.)

Jared said...

Hey Justin - sorry for the delay getting back to you (hopefully you subscribed to this post!). It would be great to chat over some coffee - be sure to let me know if you're ever in Northwest Washington.

I think we are on the same page - although I might lean towards even greater separation between church and business organizations. I'm struggling to come up with the words to describe what I mean... I guess I think the mission of the church as laid out in scripture demands a completely different approach than the business world.