As part of my preparation for a days teaching I`m involved with in a couple of weeks time I have been looking at some videos on You Tube (it’s a good excuse). The subject is Fresh Expressions of Church and I came across the following link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7_dZTrjw9I&feature=related . Under the title “What if Starbuck’s marketed like the Church ?” it satirises how many Churches make themselves known.
The trouble is that as I watch the video I see a tremendous amount of it relating to various Churches I have served in, and also in places to my own style of Ministry. Have a look at it and mark down how many times it resembles your Church. Its challenging and frightening, and we sometimes wonder why people don`t come back again.
Perhaps we need to look at some of the world around us and see how they market their product. Starbucks itself is always warm and welcoming, smiling assistants and what comes across as a genuine desire to please. Yes, I know they are trained that way but doesn`t it make for a more fulfilling visit ? Macdonald’s, clean, modern and a constantly updated menu. Lucozade changed their product appearance without altering their product and now have one of the largest selling soft drinks in the world.
So often in Church we try to peddle the unchangeable product (faith in Jesus) through the same style as we have grown up with, old crumbling buildings, hard wooden pews, organ music and nothing else, older hymns and silence instead of new songs and a jubilant atmosphere.
So how does the Church change its image ? The great starting point for the whole Fresh Expressions movement is that of 360 degree listening: in other words we need to listen in all directions, God, society, the Church, other Christians. We need to assess the culture around us and see how we can respond to that culture. In places where this has happened a variety of worship experiences and new Churches have begun, messy church, theatre church, cafe church (interestingly Starbucks and Costa Coffee now invite Churches to meet on their premises), skateboard church, bread-making church and the list is endless. Why ? Because Gods creativity is endless. We are called to listen for him, to observe what is going on around us and respond accordingly.
It is my prayer that the church stops messing around on the edges and gets real with life, engaging with the needs of people on the street and not simply those `in the church`.
Lets stop being what the world doesn’t want and lets start delivering what the world needs.