The Church Turns to Madison Avenue?

The Assemblies of God launched a new advertising campaign on Tuesday (May 29, 2007). They plan on using TV, billboards, and radio to reach out to the unchurched with the message: “Nothing’s too hard for God“. According to Assemblies of God News Service, project director Rick Griepp:

“This media plan is so much more than advertising, [I]t’s a platform for the local church to share the gospel and get their message out.

“Just imagine the impact of telling all the people in your community that nothing’s too hard for God, and letting them see what God has done and is doing in the lives of others who call on Him. It opens the door to those who are searching for answers.”

They plan on sharing testimonies of believers about the life-changing power of God in their lives as part of a message designed to be an outreach to the community.

Comments:

I have a great deal of respect for the AG denomination having attended one of their churches at a crucial time in my life. I know that their leaders pray over all the decisions that they make. If you read the whole story, there are some excellent themes that they are planning to present as part of the campaign. It could really be successful in reaching out to people and the Holy Spirit might even bless the whole thing.

However, the whole idea bothers me. Maybe I am wrong, but does the American church really need another slick media production? Are we selling corn flakes and soap? The unsaved already make fun of some of our TV productions. Like I say, maybe I am wrong. Does this bother anyone else out there? *Top

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15 Responses to The Church Turns to Madison Avenue?

  1. Here is the problem as I see it. They are again preaching a humanistic Gospel in order to draw people. The gist of their message is – “Look at what God can do for you”.
    But that is not the Gospel message and it is the leading reason why our nation is falling into spiritual darkness.
    A great resource that can potentially wreck your life (in a good way) is a very old sermon by the CMA minister Paris Reidhead called “Ten Shekels and a Shirt”.
    It can be found here: http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/singlefile.php?lid=282

    Give it a listen and then re-read about what the AG is doing. You will be shocked at your change of perspective.

  2. If the “hard core” members of any given Church aren’t seeking God’s face continually, they MAY bring in some people through some slick campaigning, but there still won’t be much to offer the newcomers except warming a few pews. But if God’s people really get hold of Him and report for duty (which is never a quick, easy process), and the Lord’s Fire starts falling in that place, no advertising will be necessary…things will happen, and word will get around like a hard east wind.

  3. I could bring in a lot of people by advertising that said “This Sunday only: Accept Jesus and get a free Playstation3!”
    But that doesn’t make it right.
    I told the church a few weeks ago, “If we offered a thousand dollars for every one that answered an altar call, we would have a packed altar. But what if we charged a thousand?” And that is the heart of the matter; salvation is no longer enough, we must give them more. God will bless you, make you happy, give you money, give you power.
    But as Reidhead stated so beautifully in that sermon I linked here: “Christianity says, “The end of all being is the glory of God.” Humanism says, “The end of all being is the happiness of man.” And one was born in Hell, the deification of man; and the other was born in heaven, the glorification of God! And one is a Levite serving Micah, and the other is a heart that’s unworthy serving the living God, because it’s the highest honor in the universe.”

  4. J.C., sure couldn’t add anything to that!

    Folks have wasted who-knows-how-much time trying to think of ways to “make the Gospel pallatable to modern society”. There’s only one way to do that, though: take things out of it, and add things to it. An abomination, pure and simple.

    You refered to Paris Reidhead as a C.M.A. preacher…would that be Christian Missionary Alliance?

  5. does the American church really need another slick media production?

    Yes, it really does. Did the church of the Bible need that? No the had the demonstrated power of God.

    Miracles are supposed to be our billboards.

  6. Yes, he was around in the days of A.W. Tozer. And he is one of the greatest resources that the church doesn’t know about. If you go to sermonindex.net and search for him, there is a slew of powerful teachings.
    I am very careful who I listen to or who I let impart something into me. Not to the point of paranoia but still careful. I have read Watchman Nee most of my Christian life and I add Tozer and Reidhead into that as well. Balanced, deep teachers who considered God before they considered the bottom line.

  7. Yes, he was around at the same time as A.W. Tozer. Paris Reidhead is perhaps the most incredible unknown resource in the church. Go to sermonindex.net and do a search for him, he has some powerful teachings that have shaped the entire repentance movement, years and years after his death.
    I personally love the CMA, if I wasn’t such an ignorant pentecostal maybe I would have a shot at joining them. But alas, I just ain’t learned enough to be considered.

  8. Carl has really hit the thing on the head as far as I am concerned. The first century church didn’t need media because they really had the demonstrated power of God.

    The news about Azusa street and the Welsh revival spread rather quickly also.

    That is what really bothers me about the new media campaign. The message is ok, it is the fact that the American church the way it is right now, actually needs to use such methods to reach out to the unsaved.

    Toa is right: IF “the Lord’s Fire starts falling in that place, no advertising will be necessary…things will happen, and word will get around like a hard east wind.”

    JC, you have some good points also, however, the AG denomination is one of the few large American churches still preaching an undiluted gospel. So I trust that their media campaign would reflect that also.

  9. I would beg to differ about the “undiluted gospel” Michael. I can understand where you are coming from however. I can literally mark the dividing line in my ministry from the moment I heard the sermon that I linked to above. Everything changed for me in the matter of an hour, after 13 years of ministry no less.
    If you have not listened to it, you really must. I think then that you would see that the issue is not the fact that we need marketed but what it is that we are marketing.
    Go ahead, take a listen: http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/singlefile.php?lid=282

  10. I’m A/G and have been relunctant to get in on this thread, but here I go!

    The campaign, like so many of these efforts the A/G uses and makes available to our local churches is not seen as a substitute for preaching under the power and signs and wonders. It’s adjunct, part of the “every available means” phrase found in our doctrinal statement and part of our Bylaws. We don’t want to deflect away from the value of Spirit-filled ministry but to touch the unsaved world on every level of communication we can. Not all our congregations involve themselves in these campaigns, but they are available for those who wish to use them or sponsor them.

    Now, having done my duty, let me take off the A/G cheerleading outfit, and say that I understand some of your (all of you) misgivings. If our churches were really bastions of signs and wonders, great conviction, transformation, and holiness such campaigns would be superfluous. Does that mean we shouldn’t use them?

  11. Oh I know the AG quite well. And I have no doubts about their doctrine. I am COGIC myself and so we come from the same base, so to speak.
    My issue was not with AG churches or AG ministries, it is with the spirit of the marketing campaign.
    If ‘every available means’ includes Osteen-like hyper prosperity and positive self image or if it includes the humanistic idea of ‘look at what God can do for you’ then I would have no part in it myself.

    The issue is with the American church in general in my eyes. I have been invited this year to Kenya, Pakistan, Philippines and Eastern Russia all because of the prevalence of this kind of thinking via TBN and others. They are crying out, literally, for someone to come and preach a straight word to their churches.

  12. Slw: Thanks so much for your inside perspective, it is very helpful. I really do like the phrase- “every available means”. I am so glad that you contributed.

  13. JC: Here is the A/G website check out their statement of faith for yourself:

    http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Statement_of_Fundamental_Truths/sft_short.cfm

    I have read the “Ten Shekels and a Shirt” a couple of times. it is very good and instructive and I am going to keep a link to it for my own personal reference thanks for sharing. I do see your point and plan to use it to evaluate my own ministry.

    However, I don’t believe that we are called to evaluate and judge other ministries or churches according to Reidhead’s template, the scriptures talk about looking at the fruit.

  14. Michael,
    To clarify, the phrase is not in the Statement of Fundamental Truths, but here http://www.ag.org/top/about/recommended_ch_bylaws.pdf and here http://worldmissions.ag.org/about/about_mission.cfm and in various ways in the District Council Constitutions and Bylaws. Every local church Constitution and Bylaws I have ever seen (admittedly not that many, but enough) have had the phrase in some form in either the preamble or another place. It’s doctrinal in that it’s part of the fabric of our practice, it’s stated in official documents, but not in the 16 Tenets. I just wanted to be accurate.

  15. JC: Thanks for the clarification. We do agree on the American church and Reidhead’s sermon is helpful in seeing the basis for some of the major problems.

    SLW: Thanks again for your contribution.

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