This post is inspired by a recent blog entry from Seth Godin. I love Seth’s blog although it’s outside my realm as he’s a marketing/business guru and I’m a lazy pastor who hates bringing anything corporate-looking into my own ‘establishment’. Still, I’m fascinated by his observations.
The recent post (which you should read above) focused on the biz idea that some people are better than others to focus upon. Some people spend more than others, so he gives tips on finding ways to locate such people and then focus on them. It’s a way of honing your marketing efforts to those with deeper pockets and it makes perfect sense.
As I read Godin’s thoughts, I felt both fascinated and sorrowful. The reality is that I’ve seen the church falling for this mentality time and again – and even myself as an oft-misguided disciple. As church leaders, I’ve heard numerous other pastors tell me personally, write it in books or even speak such things at conferences that it’s a great strategy to reach the movers and shakers. Go for the leaders. Influence the influencers.
The way Godin puts it is that “some people are better than others.” The idea there being that some are “better customers.” In the business context, it makes sense to place values on people based on what they can offer you as a company or salesperson. In the church world, it’s the anti-gospel. In the corporate world, it’s the method of operation. In the kingdom of God, it’s blasphemous.
I’m not sure why the church has veered this same way. Well, actually I can see why we naturally respond that way as humans. I guess what I find so disturbing is how the church actually condones or justifies these actions. When did the gospel ever place value on reaching certain people over others? When did proper business strategies become the best way to spread the gospel message?
Last time I checked, it was a few high school aged kids who flunked out of proper Jewish school and had to resort to their various family trades that became the chosen twelve. And even then, the early additions to the movement were literal enemies of the culture around them–the unclean (prostitutes), the oppressive (tax collectors). Somehow that’s been translated to golfing with the mayor and chasing after CEO types in order to get the proper resources into our church’s storehouse.
Perhaps this is preaching to the choir, but I found myself inspired to vent after reading Godin’s post–much as I agree for the business world. The reality is that the beauty of the gospel provides a place where there are no “better people.” It’s there that humanity is truly valued not for anything we’ve done but just because we’re all created in the image of a loving God.
Matt Conner is a freelance writer and music journalist. As the founding pastor of The Mercy House, he led a church community for more than six years in intense community development across racial and socio-economic lines. As a writer, he’s interviewed thousands of musicians for multiple print and web-based publications.