1 – They Think You’re a Cult
Why not? You have weekly meetings where you chant to your deity and your leader asks for your money. Sure, I know it’s innocent, but the average bystander can’t tell. I once visited a town with a very large temple dedicated to an oddball religion (which will go unnamed) right in the center of town on a big hill. The members would go in and out of that temple, all day, and insisted that their business in there was secret. Everyone in that town had watched these clandestine actions and secretly feared this mysterious religion whose members walked among them. Is your church any better? I should hope so.
You know who’s strange? Shriners. But, they run those wonderful clinics for poor children, so people in town aren’t afraid of them. (Plus, we’re all pretty sure we can outrun those little cars.) Does your community see you do anything so altruistic?
2 – You’re After Their Kids
Understandably, people are reluctant to trust anyone with their children. (And, if not, they should be.) So, how should they respond when your church advertises that they are more than willing to take your children in? It’s good to let people know about your children’s programs, but if you talk about it too often it becomes creepy. Are you out to provide a church for your local community, or are you trying to collect babies? Just ask yourself what your church’s advertisements talk about the most. You might find out that you’ve made your church look like a very ambitious bounce-house.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here, today…”
3 – You’re Hiding Something
Everyone knows that a Christian church is a gathering place for people who Believe in Christ. But when you claim that it’s a great place for something else then you start to look suspicious. Are you trying to look cool so you can spring the Gospel on unsuspecting youths? I hope not – but that’s how it looks when you tell people how “hip” your church is. And, the worst part is, everyone sees through it. I’ve seen churches that try to appeal to hipsters (I’m not joking – they advertised the religion of “Hipster Jesus” and were completely serious about it), families, cowboys, and teenagers, and each time I was ashamed. Non-Christians see these signs and think that someone is trying to trick them into going to church – and it takes more than U2 songs to get people out of bed on Sunday mornings. Giving your church a makeover and showing your new look to the kids only makes you look like you’re hiding something – as if you don’t want to talk about Jesus Christ. And that can’t be the problem, right? Try not to use the same techniques as cult leaders in your work. There are already cool hangouts for people of all ages in town, but there’s only one place that offers them Truth.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)