Presentation Matters

March 5, 2007 by

Relevant has an interesting online article on The Commercial Church. It argues for pretty much the opposite of what we say here, but I always find these articles interesting and valuable.

Part of me wants to agree. Yes, Sunday morning should not be “show-time”. Churches shouldn’t be focused on fluff and mere entertainment. But they’re not. The author is blowing things out of proportion, much like those who say all megachurches have sold out.

The gospel should be the church’s central and most powerful draw. But how you present the gospel still matters, and that means paying attention to the world around us. If presentation didn’t matter I could just stand on the corner and read the Bible and everyone would come to Jesus. It might happen–God does some crazy stuff. But it’s not likely.

In the end it’s always balance. The church must care about presentation, but not to the point that we lose the message for all the wrappings.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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11 Responses to “Presentation Matters”

  • Dean
    March 5, 2007

    I want to agree with you, because I do marketing on a preofessional level. However, Jesus was decidedly not into presentation. Look at the way he called the disciples. “Follow me.” Not much of a sales pitch there.
    I agree that we are competing for time and money with the world. And the world is a fierce competitor. However, you are right; God does some crazy stuff.
    p.s. I love what you guys are doing here. It’s a great call to action.

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  • Mike
    March 5, 2007

    I think the problem is equating marketing with mass marketing. Marketing is not all about getting to the most people in the most efficient way.
    Marketing should be about reaching the people you want to reach. And in this case it’s who Christ wants to reach. And that’s everyone.
    So, yes…’flash’ will reach a bunch of people. That’s Biblical, and it’s a good thing. But it’s not the *only* thing.
    If we neglect the niche markets out there in favor of only mass markets, that’s where we go awry. That’s the worldly method of maximum profit.
    So if a more traditional or completely edgy approach will reach the niche, then so be it. So long as it’s done in a Gospel centered way. Any kind of marketing can be done for the wrong reasons.

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  • jeremyscheller
    March 5, 2007

    You can be relevant and real.
    If presentation didn’t matter, Jesus wouldn’t have used metaphors relevant to the people, he wouldn’t have used parables that tell stories that people could see themselves in, he wouldn’t have had to flip the tables to make his point. Paul wouldn’t have to read the authors of the culture to make his case at Mars Hill…
    Presentation matters.
    I’ll be the first to admit that I believe the church waters down the gospel, but I believe there is a balanced approach that is both relevant and real.

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  • nathan
    March 5, 2007

    balance is everything.
    if you’re not balanced, you’re wrong.
    very true.

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  • Shawn Wood
    March 5, 2007

    Great post. As I read Aarons argument and others like his, I am always amazed at how anything unlike what “we” like we are always ready to call fluff or too much.
    In excellence or in simplicity as long as we are trying to reach more people for Jesus I am on your team.
    I think there is a movement now that is trying to be less than excellent just for the sake of being less than excellent. Thats just as dumb as bing excellent for the sake of excellence.
    To pararphrase Tom Peters:
    excellence is not Better
    Simple is not Better
    Better is Better.

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  • Dan
    March 5, 2007

    Kevin… You say that Jesus wasn’t into presentation, and he simply called the disciples by saying “follow me”.
    Well when he calls Peter to follow him, he peforms a miracle with the fishing nets, and then ties in the invitation to follow him with that miracle. I’d say that’s a pretty good “sales pitch”.

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  • Dan
    March 5, 2007

    Sorry… that last post was for Dean.

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  • Dean
    March 6, 2007

    All good points. I just don’t like to think that if my church’s postcard is prettier, then more people would come to Jesus. There seems to be something inherently wrong with that.
    Better = Better

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  • Aaron
    March 6, 2007

    I am the author of that article at RM. Your comments here are great and I agree with the majority of them. But I want to clear up something. I thought I made it clear that I am not advocating a position that is anti bands, videos, dance, drama etc. I am not saying that those methods are evil. Ok? I am saying that if we trust in the methods more than the message and the demonstration of God’s power to reach and influence people, there is a problem. Right? I say in my article that when 90% of a church’s time and resources are spent on all the flash and glam and about 10% on discipleship there is a problem. My expereince over the last 20 years has led me to realize that some ministers trust in methods more than the message. “I am calling for a shift in focus.” Thanks and God bless you guys.

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  • Sara
    March 7, 2007

    The eternal question of substance and subsistence. Presentation; is it everything? I think too many try to make this a black and white issue. It’s really made up of the entire spectrum. Rather Pink Floyd.
    I agree with Aaron. The tools we use are not evil. They are tools. Jesus used stories & analogies to explain complex thoughts (gotta love some of those figures of speeches he uses with the pharisees!). He met the people where they were at. He said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” There was a “Follow” and then a “Go.” Remember that the same crowds that cried to be touched and healed, to be fed, to experience miracles were the same that cried out for his crucifixion. Very few stuck around. They didn’t have laminated door hangers or chrome fishies on their cars.
    Praxis is more than showing up at a specific place and time, singing a few happy-clappy songs with pretty backgrounds, and handing out shiny “free lunch” cards after church in order to increase our body count.
    We need to ask ourselves if we are using our tools wisely in order to train ourselves and others TO GO OUT as we have been told, or if we are we settling for being spoonfed in our pews week after week. If we aren’t letting ourselves grow and mature, no amount of song and dance (or lack thereof) is going to amount to a hill of beans.
    The Message of the Gospel of Christ is just that. It is about Christ. It is not about us; it never has been about us. Or our church. Or our pastor (shhh, I know this may be a shock to some of them). It is about a mysterious, wonderful G-d and his son. There’s a lot I don’t know about him, since I’m not G-d, but I do know the focus should not be on ourselves.
    Love G-d
    Love others
    Serve both

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  • Matt Holley
    March 6, 2008

    This is a comment for Dean’s response to the article. Jesus did only say “Follow Me,” but Jesus was a Rabbi and the disciples were rabbi school flunkees. They weren’t good enough to even become apprentices of a rabbi. So when Jesus, a rabbi, said “Follow Me” he was telling them they were good enough. Who wouldn’t drop their nets and follow Him?

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