A Tribute to CMS

Editor’s Note: We’re in the midst of a ‘heart and soul’ series, explaining why we want to help the church matter and just how we hope to do it. We started off talking about why we do what we do and last week Brad explained the history of how this whole thing started.

This week we invited Mark Batterson—pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., the man behind the Buzz Conference, and author of the soon-to-be-published In A Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive When Opportunity Roars—to be a guest blogger for this series and share his thoughts on the Center for Church Communication and specifically Church Marketing Sucks. Thanks Mark. So with no further babbling from me…

A Tribute to Church Marketing Sucks

by Mark Batterson

We have a core conviction at Theaterchurch.com: the greatest message deserves the greatest marketing. Another way of saying it is this: the greatest gift (salvation) deserves the greatest packaging!

Something in my soul gets riled up when I see Hollywood and Madison Avenue doing a better job marketing their wares than the church does marketing the Good News.

I have to make a confession: I am highly competitive. I don’t like losing Candyland to my kids! And I used to think God wanted to crucify my competitive streak. And He certainly doesn’t want our competitive streaks aimed at other churches or pastors. But I have learned that God doesn’t want to kill our competitive streaks. He actually wants to intensify them and use them for His purposes. God wants to sanctify our competitive streaks just like He wants to sanctify every other part of us.

Does anyone honestly think that Jesus wasn’t competitive? Or what about Paul? Or Peter? I have no idea what kind of court skills they had, but if I were playing a game of pick-up basketball I’d want them on my team!

I just wonder if the church has lost its competitive drive? Is anybody else challenged by the description of the early disciples in Matthew 11:12?

“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” (NIV)

I just don’t think we’re called to boycott the Aeropagus. I think we called to compete for the truth in the marketplace. And our competition isn’t other churches. Our competition is the non-church marketers, branders and designers who are competing for the same attention span we are. Our job, according to Luke 14:23, is to “compel them to come in” (KJV). The word ‘compel’ means to demand attention. That is what marketing is all about. Our job is to get people to pay attention to God. It’s that simple. And few people are pushing the envelop like CMS.

One of the reasons I love Church Marketing Sucks is because they are competing for the kingdom. I still remember the first time I visited www.churchmarketingsucks.com. I thought to myself: they get it. CMS isn’t just blazing a creative trail. They are facilitating a constructive conversation on a rather controversial topic which is no easy task within some Christian circles!

I also love the positive approach that CMS takes. In too many instances, the church is known for what we’re against. We ought to be known for what we’re for. We need to stop pointing the finger at what is wrong with others and start creating better alternatives. In the words of Michelangelo: “Criticize by creating.”

A personal thanks for Brad and Kevin for leading the charge!

I am hoping and praying that God raises up a generation of right-brained leaders who have the courage to fulfill our creative mandate.

Blog on!

Editor’s Note: Wow. Thanks, Mark. Though I think much of the credit goes to the many people who have supported us by reading and contributing and not telling us we were completely crazy (even if we were and still are). A movement like this takes more than two crazy people—it takes a lot of crazy people.

We’ll keep the series rolling next week as we explore the accomplishments of a bunch of crazy people.