Organic Church point to a really interesting article. The gist of it is that advertising bods have advised the Church to ditch the image of Jesus on the Cross, and instead emphasise the joy of fellowship, a good sing-song and the opportunity for a heart-to-heart chat.
I stopped going to church when I realised that the music and the social life was more important than the faith. Where were the churches during the miner's strike? The unemployment of the 90s? The run up to the Iraq war? The church has to sell its real wares, the message of Christ crucified and risen, the idea of love and compassion for all. And it has to be seen putting it into practice, making government uncomfortable, changing the world around them. That will get people to take them seriously, not marketing. By their deeds thou shalt know them.
Bob Harvey, Lincs, UK
You either have faith or you don't. I find the Church irrelevant to modern life and can't think that a marketing campaign will persuade me otherwise. And all those fellas in frocks - I've always found the dressing up side a bit suspect.
The church would attract more people if it made it obvious it didn't want to turn everyone into Christians. Churches are potentially great places for the meeting of minds and debates, but people like me think they won't be accepted because they'll have to believe everything the bible says and not have sex before marriage etc.
Why not advertise? Why not modernise the singing style? If the best music and the most life changing ideas were happening in church, then you could not keep people away. Sure, change the style. But throw out Christ and the bible? Then the church is nothing, and has nothing to offer. You need revival - a turning of hearts to God -- not an advertising campaign. Prayer is needed, not money. Its not the numbers that count.
Kathy Willsea, USA
I think Christianity has lost a lot of its dignity and that's why it has lost support. Look at Islam - there's no way it's as friendly to outsiders, yet its growing because it commands respect. Tea and sing-songs don't cut it - you're better off going back to fire and brimstone.
I was bought up going to church and was in the choir for 10 years. I then had my son and I found that once he was toddling around and became difficult to keep quiet during the prayers etc I was getting dirty looks from people and i felt completely unwelcome. I persisted in going until I saw the vicar point his fingers at my son in a "gun" stance and pretended to "shoot" him, whilst smiling at other people in the congregation. I left, and have never taken my son again. He is now 11. So, for any adverts to work, they would have to convince me that ALL people were welcome and that we would have an enjoyable time
Ursula Arnold, Wales
In Edinburgh they've already worked out how to pack people into churches every day: turn them into bars.
Mike Holmes, Scotland
It does need an new image - perhaps one of tolerance, of understanding and of treating all others with respect might be a good start. There are far too many zealots who are too confident in their own interpretation of the Bible - and who don't consider alternatives - who are driving people away. The basic commandment of loving one another as we love ourselves doesn't leave much for misinterpretation and it should start from there.
A famous comedian (Lenny Bruce?!) once said, "Every day, more and more people are leaving church and returning to God." Kind of sums it up for me.
Jonathan, Leeds, UK
It is difficult to know what to do really. The Church IS in decline, and has to get its message out. It is also a fact that generally peoples attention span is short, and so the message has to be 'snappy'. To people who are already Christians, the Cross is a glorious symbol, but the 'advertising' is not aimed at them. I feel that this is a case when the right or wrong of it will depend on its success or failure.
Interesting reponses, aren't they? I was particularly intrigued by the comparison to Isalm. Just looking at the life of the early Church shows us that we don't need to be drawing people in with slick "evangelism" to see churches grow. Didn't Jesus say that it's by our love for one another that they'd know we were his disciples? And isn't it when they see our good works that they will glorify our Father in heaven?
I'm inclined to agree with those who say this slick marketing won't make any difference. I actually think that these advertising guys are quite out of touch with contemporary culture. People today value nothing more than being "real." No one wants to be attracted by some sugary-sweet advertising campaign only to discover that they have no taste for what's inside! It may lead to an initial growth in attendance, but once people see that it was all style and no substance they will be off - and they will take a hardness towards Church with them.
Anyway, I thought we were meant to be making disciples, not growing churches?!