Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

#194 Marketing spirituality

getconnected.JPGThis is Jim. He could become a member of your church if you play your cards right. So we’ve done a lot of research to figure out what will make him want to commit to church membership. As an American he’s already an expert at consuming things so we’ve figured out how to help him consume spirituality. All of this is in the Bible somewhere. We don’t have a reference for it, but it doesn’t really matter because we’re getting people in the door. Quit dissenting. You’re trying to tear apart Christ’s bride.


jim2.JPGSo what you want to do is get Jim plugged in so he’ll become a member and your church will grow. It’s all about being consumer-friendly. Our market research indicates people are nine times more likely to return to a church that is hip and convenient and affirming. And you have to impress upon them some semblance of community, so try to rally some of that. True community isn’t always convenient or fun though so that’s a tough one. We use the natural flavoring theory, like the chemicals they call natural flavors that taste just like the real thing. Jim probably won’t be able to tell the difference and if he can he won’t want to stick around, which is just as well because then he’d ask a lot of questions and wouldn’t fall in line. So anyway, we’ve researched what will get people to plug into your church and we are selling it to you, the earnest upwardly-mobile modern congregation. It’s a few thousand bucks but you’ll make it back good-measure-pressed-down-shaken-together-running-over style in the lifelong tithes from all those white-collar members you’ll nab. Blessings!

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posted October 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Hilariously, in business parlance the acronym “CRM” stands for “Client Relationship Management.” In other words: spot on post.

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posted October 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm

“close the back door”? At least it’s clear that this group is not in any way affiliated with Mars Hill Seattle…

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posted October 5, 2010 at 1:05 pm

This reminds me of the time the Christian campus group I used to belong to wanted to have some kind of altar call at the first group meeting. When I questioned whether this was a good idea, they told me that research has shown that those who make a commitment via an altar call are more likely to return to a group/church. It kind of weirded me out, because it reminded me of sales techniques and things I had learned in my social psych classes.

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Clearly Crazy Mike

posted October 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm

This is my favorite post that has ever been posted.
You know what would have made that ad worse? Bible verses.

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posted October 5, 2010 at 1:32 pm

That bit about community is the reason why I stopped attending a CC church. They had wonderful perks, but the entire mentality of the leadership (at least for people my age) was all about GET MORE PEOPLE GET MORE PEOPLE GET MORE PEOPLE. It was unsettling especially because there was no growth involved for the people already attending, and this was not seen as a priority; the priority was “Invite your friends and get your friends to invite their friends.”
captcha: forcelo scientific

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David Story

posted October 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Beautiful, Stephanie. Just beautiful. Although I was a little nauseated by igniteCRM’s website. I was hoping it was meant to be satirical. But alas, that’s the state of things.

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posted October 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm

If you join the church most likely to use this service, do you get a card you’re supposed to renew once every year if you still want your 15% J.Crew discount? Do you have to take a shuttle from the parking lot? If there’s a problem with your account or you need to put in a prayer request, do you call an 800 number and sit through one of those automated things? “Please say or choose the option that best fits your issue!” Do they play DC Talk hold muzak? Can I Skype in if I’m sick? Can I put in an offering online?

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Rollo Tomassi

posted October 5, 2010 at 2:33 pm

The scariest part is the detailed profile database a church could keep on individual members. Mega-churches have reached a point where membership has grown so exponentially that such software is practically a necessity now in order to create the illusion of individualized attention for members.

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J. Christine

posted October 5, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I agree this is my favorite post so far. My kids go to a private Christian school paid for by their Grandparents. We live in a small town. I am always being asked to go to a bible study, join a small group, go to a new church, etc. When I first moved here I went to Sunday school with my Husband’s grandmother and the Sunday school teacher asked me out for lunch. She was so sweet until I figured out all she wanted to know is if I was saved and then I never heard from her again! I have a girlfriend who has invited me to a bible study about 5 times. I enjoy church, what I don’t enjoy is someone (relative) slipping my phone number in the offering plate and having the pastor call me 3 times and then someone from the “welcome Ministry” call me 3 more times! I also want to know why I have to become a member of a church? Why can’t I just attend? So I choose not to attend because I do not feel like anyone wants to know me as a person, they want my body, and that feels dirty.
captcha: scapu- commisl

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posted October 5, 2010 at 2:55 pm

This is one of many reasons I don’t go to church any more. I don’t want to be “managed” I want to be known for myself. I don’t want to be ministered to because the software says that’s what I need. I wanted someone to actually KNOW me and CARE what I needed. And yes, I was involved. So were my kids. Youth group has no room for people who are “different”.
There’s nothing wrong with social networking or using the technology that’s available. What’s wrong is using it to replace genuine human interaction. But then, that’s a lot of what this blog is about. One of the best posts ever.

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Stephen Charles

posted October 5, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Just sticking up for the “purity balls” as best post ever. I wonder what Jim’s thoughts are on purity balls?
Rachel, I think that’s called a pyramid scheme.

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posted October 5, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Holy crap. Literally.
Whatever happened to “people, not projects”?

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posted October 5, 2010 at 4:45 pm

It’s kinda funny (but not really) how so much has been said and written about the affects of secularism, “death of god” philosophy, and eastern religions on Christianity through the 20th century. But the real change came through the application of scientific management, and especially in the psychological discoveries around marketing. The church has always sought out some kind of marketing – grand cathedrals, etc. – but nothing beats what every ad agency understands. It’s about creating “value” and a “sense” of community. It’s about creating an “experience,” a feeling of “authenticity.” There is nothing about the gospel in that. It doesn’t mean the truth cannot be preached there, or that real people cannot be there, just that it’s a commitment to a business model that, by its very nature, puts up barriers to real community and the gospel. It’s a swamp.

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posted October 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I’ve been trying to ignite crm but can’t get it started. Apparently there’s not enough synergy in my user-friendly lighter fluid.

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posted October 5, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Hmm, the ad says this “system” tracks “connection points”. What are those? Can they be redeemed in the church gift shop for WOW Praise CDs or inspirational bookmarks? (I assume a church that would use this would also have a gift shop.)

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posted October 5, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Does anyone know if one of these megachurches offers a sort of direct deposit tithe. That way you don’t even have to show up to be “plugged in”.

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George, American

posted October 6, 2010 at 1:16 am

Just another way of “Doing Things and Avoiding Relationships”… the second most important tenet of American Evangelical Christianity behind “Going Out of Your Way to be Offended”.
The best church I have ever gone to was a very small Lutheran church of under 100 members, the majority of them senior citizens. It’s a lot like school classrooms: the less students you have to a teacher means the more face time that teacher has with everyone.

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posted October 6, 2010 at 1:20 am

Some years ago, a coworker and I were taking a break at the front counter with a good view of a very busy roadway maybe 30 feet from where we stood. A truck drove by with a big painted “Jesus Saves” sign on it. We looked at each other, and said, in perfect unison. “No. Jesus SELLS!” It was one of those Blues Brothers moments of pure reveleation. I think it would be funny as Hell to see Christ return tomorrow if only for one reason: to see him retain a huge law firm to start breaking knuckles to collect ALL of the revenues which have been earned with the stolen rights to his name!

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posted October 6, 2010 at 2:25 am

The “natural flavoring theory” is my new favorite.

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posted October 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Personalized ministry profiles, eh? Sounds a little like the federal government or my credit card company. I’ll be each member has an ID number.
I was talking with a friend yesterday about how much we hate proselytization, and that’s one of the biggest things that turns us off to most contemporary spins on Christianity. The drive to proselytize is rooted in being threatened by the Other — you can’t hear other opinions or points of view because that threatens your opinion which has become your identity, and so your objective is to get everyone else to adopt your point of view so your opinion-identity isn’t threatened.
Disgusting. Almost as disgusting as turning God’s house into a market in a way that would have made the moneychangers blush. Where’s Jesus with his whips in these megachurches today?
I hope the evangelical strain of Christianity collapses in on itself “like a flan in a cupboard.”

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posted October 6, 2010 at 2:45 pm

@ Sarah: Eddie Izzard reference FTW.
I’d love to see his take on Evangelical Christianity. His musings on the Anglican Church are pretty spot-on.

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posted October 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Cake please.

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Another Sarah

posted October 7, 2010 at 10:01 am

Oh ever since I heard Eddie Izzard’s send up of the Anglican church, I have to fight not to giggle whenever I’m singing the Alleluia hymns…because he was so right, we can make “alleluia” sound like a dirge.

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posted October 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

@Another Sarah
Oh, yeah, the first time I visited an Anglican church I had to keep myself from laughing during the singing too. Then Communion started and my brain switched over to Dane Cook. “Let’s have some yum-yuuuums. I maaade snaaaaacks!”
It was a difficult morning for me. XD

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posted October 8, 2010 at 11:36 am

yup, church is officially broken…

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posted October 8, 2010 at 6:22 pm

My favourite post of yours. Spot on and great writing.
Captcha: Arnost moratly (as in consumerist Christian culture is Arnost moratly bankrupt?)

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posted October 30, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I really thought this was a spoof… but it’s not? This is terrible and repulsive.

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