I was so excited to take my wife to the National Youth Workers Convention for the first time this past fall. We had a great time but… upon entering the main hall to the convention center she could not stop talking about how abhorrent she found the shameless marketing going on. It really ruined a large part of the experience for her.
So today I was thinking a bit more about all this stuff. It seems to me we have developed a symbiotic relationship btwn. marketing and ministry. Think about the Purpose Driven Life for a bit. How is it that that book could saturate the planet (virtually)? Of course many would say that it was a resource directed by God. I am not interested in disputing the effectiveness of the material. I am however drawing the conclusion that this type of saturation simply would not have been possible without the complex marketing strategies available within the Christian publishing enterprises. Of course you could say that that simple dynamic is also a work of God. Let also not forget that it is also a work for profit. And that profit is not small no matter how altruistic the end result of those profits are.
Long and short of it – The purpose driven life does not become the ‘success’ that it is unless it can take advantage of some pretty powerful marketing schemes. Of course, for a skeptic like me it is not hard to follow that statement with questions about the authenticity of the spiritual power of this resource.
And here is the kicker the marketing system is built bigger and more complex with each successful run of a ‘product’. So that it is not long before these systematized marketing schemes can ‘own’ the Christian community. And for youth workers who are already under considerable performance anxiety the temptation to gobble up the latest proven material is irresistible.
You know for the longest time the buzz word was small groups (still is in places). I remember showing up at a ministerial and hearing people talk about their small group ministry and how awesome it was. I thought shoot I must be missing something. But then I realized my youth group was a small group all on its own. And do you know what so was all these other guys too (well most of them). Now I’m not saying small groups are bad. In fact I strongly advocate them but their fad status stripped some of the legitimacy of the strategy for me and proved to me that hopping on the latest ‘strategy’ train is over rated.
That’s why I think we need to walk away from these mass marketed strategies and ‘contextualize’ our ministry models to fit the culture, needs and realities we live in.
Thanks to YSMARKO for posting these pics