Fed Ex and The Church
I read a sign a week or so ago, and this sign was hanging outside of a Fed Ex/Kinkos business here in Orlando, FL. The sign read in big, bold letters: “The height and quality of your message will determine the quality and quantity of your customers.” I slowed down as I was driving past this sign, I read the words twice as I drove by it. I found myself repeating these words in my head, and even out loud a few times. It just stuck there in my mind like a yellow post it note; I couldn’t forget about it.
Then it dawned on me; this Fed Ex/Kinkos advertisement hanging proudly outside the entry way to the world of packages, faxes, and copies displayed more than mere black lettering on a white back drop, it represented a philosophy; if you desire profits for your business, and if you want the right clientele (people with money and excellent reputation), then your presentation or “message” must be at or exceed the level of those that you seek as customers. In other words, presentation is everything if you want the right kind of people.
Now, this “philosophy” works well in the post modern, secular, capitalistic, business-minded world that we live in, because it’s all about making a buck. But does this philosophy hold water where the Church is concerned? Let me rephrase: should this philosophy be applied to Church ministry, church planting, etc?
Let’s think about it biblically: who did Jesus call as His twelve disciples, meaning, what were their occupations? We know from the testimony of Scripture (specifically as it is outlined in the Synoptic Gospels, and John’s Gospel) that the majority of the twelve disciples were fishermen. Being a fisherman was an incredibly low-paying, thankless job. These were not Israel’s elite, money-making career professionals. They were not well-educated or well-spoken. They were rough necks. But Jesus called them and they turned the world upside down with the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Similarly, who did Jesus reach out to during His three-year earthly ministry? Well, from my recollection and years of studying the New Testament, the followers of Christ during His ministry, and those He reached out to included the following: tax collectors (which were basically outcasts in that society because they would frequently rip people off), prostitutes (a big “no-no” to hang out with them in Jewish culture/norms), lepers (again, touching a leper in Jewish mindset made a person “unclean”, and when Jesus healed a leperous man, He reached out and touched him), sinners, drunkards, poor people, sick people, women, children, etc. All of these individuals were not the elite, they were not “quality” people, they were not your upper level clientele, but Christ went to them; He chose them; He loved them; He saved them; and these lower level societal outcasts changed the world.
Business formulas and philosophies have no place in church ministry. The way Christ did things were seemingly “backwards”. Here He was the King of all Creation, and He was born to an unmarried, teenage girl, and born in a barn and slept in a food trough. Does that sound like quality/elite clientele to you? Christ came to seek and save that which was lost; He came to restore and heal the sick sinners, not the healthy (or those that think they are healthy)…this was, in the minds of many people in Christ’s day, totally opposite of what He should have been doing. He should have been going out and seeking the powerful, strong, rich, militarily-minded people so He could build an army and overthrow Rome’s power.
Now let’s fast forward a bit to the early church in the book of Acts. Christ was crucified, but resurrected and then ascended into heaven. Acts 2 outlines the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem (as Jesus had told them to do). So what happened? The people in Jerusalem that were there to celebrate the feast of Pentecost, heard the people in the upper room speaking the wonders of God in their own languages (which the Holy Spirit gave them the ability to do and gave these out of towners the ability to understand). Then Peter (the fisherman disciple who quite frequently had his foot implanted in his mouth) stands up in front of these people and preaches probably one of the most awesome sermons recorded in Scripture. Peter, through the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit, proclaims the truth of the Gospel, the truth of who Christ was and is, and as a result, what happens? Three thousand people put their faith in Christ, repent of their sins, and are water baptized. It also tells us that these early church members dedicated themselves to the study of Scripture, and Christian fellowship. As a result of all the above information, Scripture tells us that their number (their membership) increased on a daily basis.
Did they have some sort of special marketing strategy? Did they think of all sorts of ways to be relevant and culturally sensitive, and seeker-friendly? Absolutely not. What did they do? They preached the truth; and of equal importance, they lived out the same truth that they proclaimed. They were not concerned about the quality of their presentation, the entertainment value, if you will. They were concerned about the Truth, and reaching out to all people with that same truth; the exact same thing that Christ had done in His earthly ministry.
So what has happened? Why has the Church’s (at least here in the States) focus turned to numbers for numbers’ sake (instead of for the sake of building God’s Kingdom), and profits (gearing our “message” to the right clientele). I mean, heaven forbid that drug dealers, prostitutes, drunkards, and the like walk through the doors of our church buildings seeking truth, seeking salvation…we would probably shun them because they do not fit our aforementioned criteria. A really good friend of mine said something powerful last night, he said: “The Church in America does not operate and do things in the power of God…we do things in the flesh.” Is this not the truth? Instead of meeting people’s needs and preaching the truth of the Gospel, instead of going to them, we simply advertise and entertain, and expect them to come to us. Christ went to the sinners, and as a result, they followed Him, they came to Him. Not because He was politically correct or entertaining, but because He ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit and He spoke the truth. Oh that the Church would get back to these basics and stop allowing our culture to influence how we do ministry! We actually might see a mighty move of the Holy Spirit and true revival, true repentance, true belief in Christ, flood our communities and cities like never before!
So…what are we seeking? Upper level, elite, clientele to add to our church membership logs (for our own glory)…? Or are we seeking those that society has marginalized, the untouchables, the unlovables…are we preaching the truth to those that are “sick”? Last time I checked, it was the lower than entry level, poor, abused, sick, clientele that Christ came to save.
Only truth spoken here,
My name is Rachel Dyer and I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree(s) in Bible/Ministry/Counseling, etc. I taught middle school for two years, have been in church ministry leadership (specifically with young people) for 9 years, have been tutoring kids and college students alike. Additionally, I own and run my own ministry, B.A.R. (Believe And Repent) Ministries, Inc.