Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We Have No King but _________

Naomi Schaefer Riley concludes a review of a book on marketing the church by making a provocative point:

If you can find a way of seeing religion primarily as a form of consumerism--skipping the (how to put it?) faith and truth part of religious belief--then Mr. Twitchell's analysis makes some sense. And in fact there are churches out there self-consciously engaged in marketing. They hire consultants and public-relations experts to "grow" their flock, and they obey a market discipline. Mr. Twitchell notices a sign hanging in Mr. Hybels's megachurch office that quotes Peter Drucker, the business guru.

But consultants can only do so much, and the point of church outreach surely has less to do with improving "brands" than with saving souls. Mr. Twitchell concludes by noting that, "in the Land of Plentitude, the customer is king." Thus he asks: "Why should religion be different?" The answer to that question comes from another book.

Indeed. It never seems to occur to many of the mass merchandisers of church life that it is possible to gain the whole world and lose one's soul.

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