So there's this church in my neighborhood and they have one of those message signs and last week I noticed that the sign said:

"Join the fastest-growing church in Nashville."

I should have stopped and taken a picture.
Should a church really be that far into the self-promoting business?
And who keeps up with the "fastest-growing" churches?
Is this really the criteria by which church visitors and new people select a church to attend?
Is that really going to make a new visitor feel special?
Is God honored by blatant bragging?
Is church a competition?

Color me confused.


Mimi said...

Yes, it's not quite right, and no, church isn't a competition.

Lord have Mercy. I'm sitting right next to you in the confused column.

Anita said...

Add me too! Of course, last week I heard some criticism on our church. It seems some year or more ago, our pastors put up a billboard on a main highway that had their pix and a message saying something to the effect of "Join us @ HIS HOUSE...", simple and to the point, right? Well, the comment was that 'their' picture should not be on that board??? My question actually was, who should have their pix there? (I didn't ask her, just thought it!)Being that our is a new church (just over 3 yrs old now), I never thought about it not being appropriate. They weren't bragging, just saying, "join us". There again, I guess it is perspective, huh?

Christy B said...

Actually, working in at a huge Christian company (yes very much Christian company) we are very interested in the fastest-growing church. And surpisingly, fastest-growing is an appeal that many people look for when trying to find a church home. It indicates that the church has things to offer, besides the obivious. They would have small groups, Sunday school, speciality groups probably within the criteria that a new prospective member is looking for. Making visitors feel welcome is hard, during the consultations that our area does, churches (even those on a plateu)usually score low. Another thing to consider .... as much as I hate to say it, the more members you have, the more tithing coming in. Even churches have bills/loans to pay. God provides yes, but when the bank is yelling for those loan payment, tithing members are a plus.

I do have a unique look at the church because of where I work and what I've seen in those 15 yrs. I've had pastors yell at me, lay persons ask for prayer, and little ole' ladies call asking for free stuff. I unfortunely see the good, bad and the really ugly of church life. So, seeing a sign like that doesn't turn me off, it actually intriques me ....... what are they doing differently than the church a mile down the road? AND are they really fastest-growing or do they just THINK they are?!?!?! That's the real question for me!!!

By the way, someone is always keeping up the the numbers .......

Sarah said...

I see your points Christy and appreciate your perspective. Joal and I were both raised in minister's families and we have experienced some of the underbelly too.

I try not to approach church from a "what do they offer me" point of view. I tend to look more towards "what are they doing to serve and worship?" but that's certainly not what is ever seen onthe church message signs. Unfortunately.

I also think churches with great amounts of debt have done themselves a huge diservice as those who are supposed to be walking in the light, but that's another story.

I worry when church become a business plan.

TracieClaiborne said...

I think the church that said it was the fastest growing was merely using that phrase as a way to attract people so people would go, "hmmm...maybe I should visit and see why it's growing so fast!"

And let's say they did...that would be a good thing, right?

My Pastor told of a billboard he just saw for a church that said, "relaxed atmosphere." Well he is not one to let us just come to church and leave the way we came, so he had quite a bit to say about that! We have had a billboard with our pastors in it and it really helped to increase our growth. It was smack dab in the middle of the Rivergate area. I hope we can have it again soon. We're getting ready to start our TV ministry.

Anonymous said...

I really hate church advertisements, especially bilboards. They seem so self-righteous and blatant. I think churches wouldn't have to advertise if their members were spreading the word to their friends, family and neighbors. (Go ye...) I don't think fast-growing and large numbers are the best way to judge the Godliness of a church.