Chapter 1 in This Little Church Went To Market
A New Kind of Church
Having watched a large segment of the church become content with short yardage and lousy scores, some decided that there had to be a better way. The church was not penetrating society; she was not pulling in the masses; she was not making a significant impact for the gospel. . . People, we were told, were not rejecting the gospel or Christ; they were rejecting our out-of-date, unappetizing forms, philosophies, and methods. (ch. 1)
In this beginning chapter, Pastor Gary Gilley describes the church today and the changes “experts” recommended for it. He goes on to mention the differences between a megachurch and a new-paradigm church. Two flagship new-paradigm churches that he names are Saddleback Valley Community Church and Willow Creek Community Church. Both of these churches are well-known and serve as models for the way church is done today. This is why he uses them in the book as examples.
In chapter 1, he quotes church-marketing consultant, Richard Southern:
Protestant megachurches have become the evangelical answer to Home Depot, marketing such services as worship, child care, a sports club, 12-step groups, and a guaranteed parking place. (ch.1)
He goes on to list a few of the characteristics that the marketing experts claim will work for church growth every single time. One of those principles is that of having an enthusiastic worship service. Pastor Gilley responded with:
So fun has replaced holiness as the church’s goal . . . John MacArthur observes, “Many Christians have the misconception that to win the world to Christ we must first win the world’s favor. If we can get the world to like us, they will embrace our Savior. That is the philosophy behind the user-friendly church movement.” (ch. 1)
My favorite part
He asks a probing question at the end of chapter one concerning which of the two churches mentioned in Revelations was a growing church: the church at Laodicea or the church at Smyrna? Laodicea was a wealthy church in need of nothing, while Smyrna was a poor church and facing great persecution. Which one did God consider a growing church?
God said of the Laodicean church that he would spit them out of his mouth, but of the Smyrna church that they would receive the crown of life. Confusing, isn’t it? The growing church did not please God, while the struggling one did?
Apparently, the Sunday morning worship attendance is not the criteria God uses to judge the true effectiveness of a local church. (ch. 1)