DEAR CHURCH DOWN THE ROAD*:
I wanted to thank you for your excellent marketing approach in reaching our neighbors with the good news of Christ. I enjoy your signs, mailings, web pages and strategically placed fliers. I wanted to commend you on a few especially powerful messages, and encourage you to keep up the good work.
1. Keep reminding people that “going to church does not make them a Christian.” That will certainly encourage them to carve time out of their busy, overwhelming, over-programmed lives to come to church on a regular basis. If they aren’t already engaged in a faith community, reinforcing the slim connection between worship and “real” salvation will send them running right over.
2. Keep on telling folks what sinners they are. How bad and broken their relationships are. How vile and repulsive their human wants and needs. Not only will that send the clear message that they are a beloved child of God, it will also, (again) compel them to carve time out of their busy lives to come and endure the biblically inspired name calling every single Sunday. Furthrmore, reminding people how doomed and horrible they are will bring out the best of their nature, inspiring them to be more engaged and productive members of the community.
3. Keep hauling out those clobber passages about the gays (or subverted population of your choice). People with no previous understanding of or connection to the biblical story will definitely hear the authority of those ancient, out of context words and RUSH RIGHT OVER to devote their lives to Jesus; and even more importantly, they will be made to realize how very right you are, and have of course been all along.
4. Keep advertising study and worship series about ‘what’s wrong with the millenial generation,’ because that is the surest possible way to bring that coveted magic bullet–young families with children–through your doors in droves.
5. Keep on making sure that your flock is properly and spiritually armed for the ‘end times.’ If you were to spend that same time and energy bringing the transformative powers of Christ to bear in our own time and place, people might forget to worry about what will happen when they die. Then we’d REALLY all be in a pickle.
6. By all means, keep telling your folks how rich God wants them to be, equating corporate success with grace and mercy, and blaming the poor for being poor. That is exactly what Jesus intended in the original cut of the beatitudes. Those gospel writers were a bunch of dang hippie socialists, and everybody knows it.
7. Please, keep including political rhetoric and word for word campaign speak in your interpretation of the gospel. Because folks these days trust and value poltics ALMOST as much as they value organized religion.
8. And above all else, you must keep up the excellent job of moral-policing the people. Because more than longing for meaning and purpose; more than seeking the strength and comfort of community; more than looking for some spiritual wisdom to help interpret the human experience in these troubling times; above all else, people love being told what to do.
Yes, keep up the wicked awesome evanglism, folks. Your progressive mainline neighbors down the road are grateful for your ministry. You are truly the best advertising that our money could ever buy…and you are good enough to do it all for free.
*Note: not a specific church down the road. Well, ok, ONE church down the road–the church that did an especially appalling mailer during Advent. That one bad post card inspired the other reflections. Most of our neighboring churches are truly doing the work of the gospel in our community, and will not be the recipients of my blogging wrath on a regular basis. Ecumenism, fellowship, and good neighbor vibes all around. Peace.