(A Tongue & Cheek Look at Contemporary Church Growth)
Most of us are familiar with the saying, ”Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door”. This seems to be the current philosophy of contemporary churchanity. Build a better mousetrap and people will flock to your church, your numbers will swell, your finances will dramatically increase and maybe someday you will realize the holy grail of many pastors – Your very own a Mega church! After all, isn't all about the numbers.
“Eight Steps to Building a Better Church Mousetrap”
1. The first step is to get a new church name – something catchy, provocative and dynamic with a just a hint of mystery behind it – like “The Call”, “Elevation Church”, “The Encounter”, “Passion City”, Focus Fellowship”, “Synergy Fellowship” or "Saddleback". Try to avoid anything “churchy”, religious or denominational. Yep! It's that easy! Just adding the "Wow!" factor to your church name can turn an ordinary, “Norma Jean” church” into a vibrant, “Marilyn Monroe” church overnight and have the curious flocking to your church in droves!
DISCLAIMER: Anyone attempting to apply step #1 should be aware that this step comes with no guarantees of success. Users need to understand that you can no more change the inherent nature of the churchianity within a church fellowship by simply changing its name, denominational affiliation or label than you can by calling a horse a dog. You can call a horse anything you want but it is still a horse.”
2. You absolutely have to implement Peter urn a dull, “Norma Jean” church” into a vibrant, “Marilyn Monroe” church overnight! Wagner’s “Church Growth Strategies”. His stuff is so spot on you have to wonder how the church made it this far without his know-how? You’ll need to dump all the stodgy religious window dressing, archaic terms and stiff, hard-back pews. You’ll need all the latest conveniences and state-of-the-art accessories – like plasma
screens, stage lighting, laser lights, smoke machines and aesthetically pleasing auditoriums. As the numbers increase, you can set your sights on a cappuccino bar, a health spa, vending machines, valet parking and inflatable bouncy toys for the kids. A colorful church brochure is a good idea along with a church bumper sticker with some catchy slogan like, “Real People Finding Real Answers.”
3. You’ll need to add a comprehensive cornucopia of enticing programs for the whole family. Since it would seem by the volume of self-help books sold by Christian bookstores that Christians are some of the most clueless and inept human beings on earth, the emphasis must be on “SELF-HELP” with the promise of payback in the form of financial prosperity, self-empowerment and worldly success. You will need programs on marriage, how men can finally get it together, youth, how women can take charge of their lives, finances, Sozo prayer, dieting, flower arranging and many more to equip the well-rounded Christian. Keep in mind that enticing programs, activities and church entertainment will keep them busy, keep them interested, keep them coming and keep them giving.
4. You need to hire a cool, young pastor who is totally awesome and with the times. He has to be someone who is culturally correct, extra-biblically aware and not afraid to color outside the scriptural box. He needs to be progressive enough to go beyond the archaic restrictions of the KJV and reach people with the latest “pop theology” that speaks to modern man. If he refers to the Bible at all it should be the "Message Bible" or the "Passion Translation". This will bring in the youth and new blood. Make sure he has an earring and some dramatic tats. He needs to wear faded jeans (preferably with holes in the knees) and sit on a stool when he gives his cool, fifteen-minute motivational, pep talk.
5. You definitely have to buy into the contemporary Christian music scene and get all the worship songs from “Hillsong” and “The Jesus Culture”. It doesn’t matter whether many of them are shallow, scripturally “off” and little more than saccharine sentimentality. It’s all about the emotions they generate, the vibes they produce and how relatable we can be to the worldly culture around us. Make sure you have a dedicated worship team who absolutely love to worship their own worship. A friendly word of advice; don’t worry about the “old school” Christians; they will fade away soon enough.
6. Another absolute must is to promote a totally new and innovative evangelism Strategy. First and foremost, you must have user friendly services and a seeker sensitive gospel. It needs to be more appealing, relatable, accommodating and effective. After all, the gospel is not the reason the gospel works, we are the reason the gospel works. You will need some cool gimmicks to attract people, a lot of nifty booklets for every conceivable rebuttal, and maybe throw in a free gift, a prophetic reading or personal dream interpretation to sweeten the deal.
7. Success often depends upon embracing at least one of the latest sensational movements like “NAR”, “Word of Faith”, Bethel Redding or the “Kansas City Prophets”. With there enormous popularity there is always the chance for the "Trickle-down effect." Even tying your wagon onto some political or moral crusade will work in a pinch. Of course, it also helps to idolize some charismatic church celebrity like Rick Warren, Joyce Meyers or Joel Osteen. Don’t worry, Churchanity offers a veritable smorgasbord to choose from.
8. And above all else always bear in mind that hype, sensationalism and raw emotionalism are indispensable because these have proven to be the most effective, fast-track to church growth, even if it is only for a short season.
Note: When you find that none of this junk really works you can always return to the simple house church in the bible.