There is a phenomenon entitled “church hopping” that is rampant in many places. Church hoppers are notorious for seeking the next big high in town. They want more entertainment. They want more programs. They want you to do more for them. As you placate to them, they will reward you with their attendance. So to appeal to church hoppers, you need excitement built on entertainment. If you can’t afford the musicians or your preaching is not popular enough then this may be a problem…You may have to cut the community programs and give it to musicians. You may have to bring in television evangelists if your preaching ain’t packing them in. You may have to spend all of your money in the quest for the church hopper…but filling the church is the point…right? So how do you do it?
The next thing you need to do to make your church a magnet for church hoppers is to lower the accountability in the church. Nothing causes church hoppers to run more than accountability. Don’t hold people to anything. Don’t expect them to live differently than their non-Christian neighbors. Don’t preach about holy living. Don’t expect that their lives will demonstrate the power of God. In fact if you must condemn anyone, condemn those who have the audacity to speak about transformed lives. Call them hypocrites. You have to build into your church a lot of places where people can hide and not become a part of the community. You want to make people as comfortable as possible with not being a real part of the community. Now of course that will mean that those who want genuine community may not find it there, but you just wanted to put “butts in the seats”….right?….
Do these things and you might be able to compete for church hoppers. They will come from the other churches around town to yours, if you got a better “show” than they have. You will be able to report massive growth to your superiors. You will be able to show out at the next ministerial association meeting. You will have a church full of members that simply changed the place where they consume their religious entertainment. However don’t be surprised when your people leave at that new young hotshot preacher across town, or that great choir that just won that national award.
Or maybe…just maybe…we aughta preach the word in season and out of season. (2 Timothy 4:2) Maybe, just maybe, we aughta trust that the Word that we preach out will not come back void. (Isaiah 55:11) Maybe we aughta seek to usher in our people to an encounter with the word that will change them…and our church may grow to a large size…but then again it may not…but in the end, God will be using us to be a part of God’s in-breaking Kingdom that is not based in entertainment or lack of accountability, but is based in a total transformation of the present order and its citizens Maybe we aughta grow a church not by appealing to madison avenue advertising techniques…maybe we aughta just preach the word. maybe…
I am showing my age, but I can remember a television commercial where an elderly woman looked at a hamburger that was served to her from a fast food joint and asked the then popular question “Where’s The Beef?”
As I listen to much preaching today, I have to ask myself, “Where’s the Beef?” When people go home with tired limbs from exercising, but without a touched heart, I have no question but to ask “Where’s the Beef?” When members go home telling everyone that “The pastor Sho Nuff Preached” and yet can’t even answer what scripture was used or what was the preacher’s main point, I must ask “Where’s The Beef?”
I love Black Preaching, but I am sick to my stomach of preachers using a whoop to hide a lack of solid engagement with the text. I love black preaching, but it makes me cringe in horror as our noble craft is desecrated by the hands of a hack who has obviously not read the text.
And I am very scared that many of our people don’t have any idea that what they are receiving is pablum and not food. Dear preachers, don’t serve junk. Don’t betray your Lord and Your people and Your heritage by using celebration like that.
Olin Moyd writes on page 36 of The Sacred Art:
Redemption for African Americans meant salvation from states and circumstances as well as salvation from sin, guilt, and the consequence thereof. Redemption meant liberation from oppression, and it also meant confederation, or the developing of a community of God.
Redemption is more than just one individual getting to heaven. Too often the western truncation of the gospel has totally ignored the social dimension. Glen Beck describes this Western perversion of the Biblical kingdom of God by implying that there is no social dimension to the gospel. It is totally about the individual in this false gospel. This “gospel” ignores the fact that God always works with groups. Certainly we decide whether we will be a part of that group individually, but it is a communal and corporate Kingdom that God is seeking to institute.
While some are making capitalism the essence of the Gospel, Blacks were suspicious of such moves. Others attempt to equate the middle class idea of “the American dream” with the goal of the gospel. And yet, black folks have always been suspicious of such a gospel. African American thought is wary of a “gospel” that might save their soul but says nothing about their condition. Ultimately they question a God that has the ability to save from sin, but will not or cannot liberate from oppression.
No we don’t look for the American Dream, we look for the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God ain’t about the property rights of the rich, it is about the first being last and the last being first. Yes, redemption includes both the mental and spiritual, but it also includes the physical being of humanity. And we won’t accept any counterfeit as the genuine article no matter how loud the west yells it.