Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Churchapreneurs: get your programs!

(a churchapreneur is a pastor of a local church who views his church as a product to be marketed and sold for profit and influence)

Being a churchapreneur is fun for a whole lot of reasons: you get to build a big business, make lots of money, have all kinds of people worship you, and while you are at it have a whole lot of fun participating in cutting edge church programs. Any churchapreneur worth his salt knows Americans love to have fun; so one of the best ways to reel in the customers is to make church exciting and fun. Right along side having trendy music, which targets and caters to your particular demographic, you need to have fun programs for all ages in order attract those new customers, and to keep the current customers satisfied and coming back for more.

It used to be, about a generation ago, when “small groups” were the cool thing and churchapreneurs were just starting to carve out their niche in the evangelical world, that you could get away with having a hippie play Bible songs on an acoustic guitar while group members sat in a circle in a casual setting. You could have the group meetings in a cozy room at the church around a fire place – you know –to create that needed sense of atmosphere that made people feel comfy. Then after the music, the group would study the Bible by encouraging each person to “share” how they felt about the Bible passage or topic under discussion. A good small group meeting was usually capped off with a time of splitting up into prayer teams, getting vulnerable with each other, and praying over your neighbors problems.

Today, that just wont work. Having a souped up small group ministry just wont deliver the cache of customers it used to, because too many churches caught wind of the small group ministry idea and next thing you know, all the churches in town were doing it; so the only way a churchapreneur could create that competitive edge was to come up with some new kind of programs. Now it seems, the race is on to have new and cooler and more cutting edge programs. For the young ones there are "ministry specialists" who can help you learn the art and science of children's ministry. For instance, at Children's Ministry University Online, you can learn "the practical steps to Cultivating a Cutting-Edge Children's Church." http://www.cmuo.com/workshops/kidschurch/ Through this web cast you can learn from the "professionals" all you need to know to have that difference making children's program that is sure to entice those soccer moms to church. If its the teenage crowd you are after you could follow the model of G.A.P. Teen Church where they make " radical teenagers" and have "anointed worship, human videos, skits, and more. " http://www.gapteenchurch.org/Page_7.aspx?id=216749 If you want something really, really cool and on the true cutting edge of youth ministry programs you absolutely need to keep in touch with what is going on at Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA. After all, this is home to America's favorite pastor, Rick Warren, and located where they are, in the heart of Orange County, they just have a nose for what is cool. http://www.saddlebackfamily.com/blogs/hsm/index.html

There can be not doubt that children's programs are crucial for the churchapreneur because in our youth worshiping culture, if you can put together a program that kids really like, you can be sure one of the parents will be more than happy to drive Johnnie and Suzy down to the church for it. But, if you want to keep those parents entertained after they drop the kidz off or if you want to really burnish your credentials as a top notch businessman, you need to come up with something that will reach those parents. So if its moms that you are after and you really want to do something cool for the Botox babes who drive big SUV's and are always found packing a Starbucks cup, you cant afford to have the business as usual programs. You need to have women's programs that are "spiritual" yet at the same time also say "we're cool" and have the kind of star power quality that would entice all the suburban, upper middle income, into the cool, type mom's. Now to reach this finicky yet important target group you need look no further than the ultra cool woman's program of Mosaic church called "she". http://www.shecommunity.org/index.html A link on the web site gives you just a little taste of what "she" is all about:
SHE Connects, SHE Teaches, SHE Invests, SHE Nurtures, SHE Creates, SHE Rocks and so much more ... SHE was created to be a voice of hope. Our desire is to connect to you to a community of authenticity as you discover where you can most "come alive" and discover your unique voice.

Now, if that does not reach all the cool mom's out there, I don't know what will. Churchapreneur, you might as well throw out all of your half-baked women's program ideas and make a b-line for Mosaic and figure out how to do "she" because once you figure it out, or come up with something similar, you are on your way to an expanding business.

I want to treat men's programs in a separate category here, primarily because every churchapreneur knows just how hard it is to carve out a growing customer base in this demographic. Let's face it, men are the tough nuts to crack because they tend to be suspicious of the gimmicky and don't like all that emotional, touchy feely stuff that churches are often into. After all, what man wants to get vulnerable and be transparent and cry? That is just not what we are in to. So the challenge of the churchapreneur is to come up with a men's program which says up front to the would be inquirer that there will be no Kleenex at this men's meeting, just surfacy male-bonding type stuff. For years, and for obvious reasons, church softball teams have been the staple of men's ministries. Lately churcharpreneurs have been coming up with more innovative approaches however. One approach we have already blogged about here on calvinontap is the so-called "GUY CHURCH." This is that movement where church buildings are designed to look like hunting lodges inside and where the guys get together, beat on their chests, and get their primal instinct on over meals which consist of game harvested out in the wilds. These are called "beast feasts" (of course) and the only paper products found there are going to be extra large Bounty paper towels for wiping off greasy hands that have been wrapped around a rack of ribs (natures finest!). But if you want to really learn how to reach the truly masculine men you need to go to GUTS Church. http://gutschurch.com/ This churchapreneur really has a handle on how to reach those hard to reach guys. Their headline event for men is called "Tougher Than Hell" which is an annual biker rally aimed at reaching you know who. For more details you can consult the ministry web site. http://www.tougherthanhell.com/ So there you have it, just a few idea starters for programs to help reel in the tough-guys.

Well, that is it, the churchapreneurs one-two punch: music and programs. The successful churchapreneur always has both. Worship music is bound to only reach a certain segment of the target audience, but worship music combined with fun, cutting edge programs definitely helps carve out that big slice of market pie that every businessman is hungry for. Stop and think about it, what could be better, a place where you can get a little religion, meet a few new people, and have a whole lot of fun while you are doing it; now that's an incredible business concept!

4 comments:

Vic said...

Great post once again John.

These methods just plainly piss me off! Completely unfounded. Unfortunately, we Reformed folk are not immune to utterly disobey the commands of God, stray from his Word and our own creeds and come up with some stupid man-made traditions.

http://www.cfellowship.org/programs.html

http://www.harlingenchurch.org/childrenteens.htm

http://www.wyckoffreformed.org/music.html

http://www.dogberrypatch.com/archives/kids-christmas-program-at-grace-urc/
http://www.rehobothurc.ca/ministries/

Denise said...

Pour me a tall glass of "Calvin on tap"...I'll drink to this!!! I especially want to toast what you had to say about women's ministries...its so true and I can't quite understand why women don't see how ridiculus it makes them look!

Timothy said...

Amusing Ourselves to Death comes to the church!

Timotheus
http://www.skubalon.net

mullinsworld said...

Hi John,

Great post as usual the only thing I would disagree with is your thesis that this is ruining the church.

Here is the way I think about this;

1. Megachurches cannot ruin what they are not apart of -- namely they have morphed into something not Christian

2. Why should we care what the world thinks of the church? In the early church the pagans all thought Christians were terrorists, anti-authority and cannibals

3. While the methods of the megachurches are despicable, the real danger is this type of thinking getting into orthodox Christian churches and screwing them up. This is where we need to be vigilant. Vic gives us some examples; when we have churches in our communion that are straying this way we should all say something. That's called church discipline.

Anyway this is a great primer on the megachurch movement which btw, I've read other places has started to lose membership. I am optimistic for the reformed Christian faith as young people who grew up in these churches rebel against the marketeers. These young people either fall away, go emergent or join the reformation!

Viva la Reformation!