Saturday, February 19, 2011

Religious Entrepreneurship

...the consistent pattern of religious entrepreneurship in America leaves us confident that more innovations will emerge. Such changes will be mostly incremental, mostly within local congregations, but always inventive.
Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Unites and Divides Us, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010), 179.
As a "showman, businessman, and entertainer" - P.T. Barnum rose to the heights of fame and fortune during the 19th century. Interestingly enough, Barnum might be one of the key figures to study in learning about the American church today. Although I would argue that the church is not offering the hoaxes that Barnum did, I do believe that the church is in a position where it spends many of its hours and dollars on figuring how to draw people in. What can be done to allure the person who is not currently coming to the church into coming to your church?

What this has done has made the business & entertaining side of church far more critical then in the past. A pastor with a theological degree might be able to explain the questions we have about the Bible, but without doing it in an entertaining way - he'll never have the audience to do so. Religious innovation and entrepreneurship have become the backbone of moving the church forward. What can be done to entertain the masses and convince them that your product is the best? What are you selling that the other local churches or possibly local entertainments are not? Might it be that the church would do better hiring more people with business, theatrical and marketing backgrounds? I have often thought that a church willing to hire the creative team behind Bud Light could certainly increase attendance.

Of course the issue behind it all is that the church (hopefully) remains focused on Jesus Christ and His message of redemption. Theology must remain a critical piece to the church puzzle. Without God - the church is simply a moralistic social club. However, the reality remains that churches need attedance & money. Without those two factors, churches (like businesses) shut their doors. So the issue becomes how much of the resources of a church go into the entertainment aspect - and what is the process for determining how effective those resources are at getting the audience to "buy into" the "product?"


Best Damn Son said...

what is your email address? Email me. I have some stuff to email to you

bigdave said...

A very engrossing book, that clearly has caught your attention. Seems like Bonhoeffer would have a pretty good answer to all this "marketing" that is now forced on what we call the "church." I wonder if what we are drawing people to attend is not just another "dog and pony"
show, and our consumeristic society has really lost all interest in Christ. His life never seemed to be interested in the numbers, but they followed due to the content. I find purchasing old sports arenas for a "theatrical" production in the name of church, has to deepen the wounds of the crucifixion, and put barriers to many who might readily grasp the true message of Christ, if they could "see" it in our lives.