Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Old Bait and Switch

Surfing the net looking for sermon and outreach ideas, I came across a church that is practicing what I would call the old bait and switch. They have named their church ______ Community Church. Now anybody having some familiarity with community churches would expect something of the bapticostal type teaching. However, in this case the church is Lutheran, something that becomes apparent when you view their website, they have a link to and they have a regular seminar that is based on Veith's Spirituality of the Cross.

This combination bothers me. I have met the senior pastor at this church and he does believe that having a church name that identifies you with a denomination is a detriment to outreach. I disagree, obviously. I seriously doubt many people who have no church experience are going to be turned off by the name Lutheran, Baptist, or whatever on the sign. Most likely they are going to go where their friends and family are and where they feel welcome, despite the name on the sign.

As far as I can see the there are three sets of people who will be turned off by having a denominational name. The first set is the group comprised of people who have had negative experiences within a certain denomination. The second set is the group of overly pious people who view denominational names as high heresy. The third set is the group of people who don't want to bind themselves to any set confession, rather they want to be free to make up their own confession. That is it. So, instead of creating a name that is welcoming to non-Christians they are practicing a bait and switch on these people. That just ain't right. Churches should go above and beyond in being completely open and honest about who they are, not hide behind a name.


Bruce Gee said...

I would think that part of the bait and switch problem would be those who come, stay for awhile, and find out just what the church is, that it is Lutheran. What are they going to think? "Why are they ashamed of being Lutheran?"
"What else are they ashamed of?"
Marketing that throws people off the scent of who you really are is dishonest, and always, always comes back to bite you. But maybe this crypto-Lutheran church in fact really DOESN'T want to be Lutheran. Eh?

JP Manzi said...

Sadly Bruce, when one thinks of a Lutheran Church, they think of the liberal/non-confessional churches that are rampant in the ELCA.