Jeff Bartell

A "bottom line" kind of guy

Church Planting or Carnal Marketing?

evangelism-fishAfter 14 years of missionary service in Albania and starting 2 churches from scratch (that means ZERO people to start with) which continue as healthy churches today, my heart is thrilled to hear more and more people in the USA talk about planting new churches.  I believe in that.  I want to be a part of helping more and more churches begin.  More and more authors are writing about church planting.  More and more seminars are being held to explain “how to” start a successful church.  That’s awesome!

What I have witnessed personally over the last 7 years in the USA is that many, if not most, of these new churches don’t emphasize the ONE thing that really STARTS a new church:  evangelism of the unsaved.  There are 2 camps.

1)  A slick marketing campaign to canvass an area, usually a high population growth area in the suburbs of a large, growing city.  These areas will grow in population anyway, so it is reasonable that a new church will attract many of the recent transplants.  Typically they advertise as the “newest” and “most authentic” version of Christianity.  They offer  Christianity without all of the “baggage” of tradition.  What they are really doing is marketing to EXISTING church people to come to THEIR show – because it will be “better” than whatever they were previously used to.

2)  A directed effort to constantly remind EXISTING church members that their church is NOT doing something right.  This style of marketing is negative and plays on the emotions and frustrations of (typically) carnal Christians.  Face it, everyone is a little frustrated from time to time.  So this group behaves like Absalom as he seeks to usurp his father David’s kingdom.  (see 2Samuel 15-17)  Absalom worked behind the scenes, whispering in the people’s ear, to convince them that in HIS kingdom, things would be better!  God killed Absalom.

God has called us to the “ministry of reconciliation” (2Cor 5:18-20).  He calls us fishers of men.  That does NOT mean to fish in someone else’s fish tank!  I understand why people do it – they have been hurt at some point in their lives by some Christian and they now focus all their effort to “doing it right.”  So why not REALLY do it right, and actually start NEW churches with people that have never known Jesus before?  Well, one reason is because THAT method is hard work!  It’s easier and more fun to just entice carnal believers away from existing churches.

I pray we have a revival of real church planting, the kind that distinguished the Philadelphian church period (~1500 – ~1900 AD) as the greatest period of church history (see Rev. 3:7-13).  I realize that that is difficult in the Laodicean church period (~1900 – today), which is characterized by overt selfishness (see Rev. 3:14-22), yet I think there is still room for God to use sincere people that will actually trust Him enough to “do it right”!

I’m in.  How ‘bout you?

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Wow! I feel like you totally “hit the nail on the head” with this blogpost! Ray and I have been talking a lot about this recently, and this puts into concise biblical reference what we have been trying to figure out! Thank you for this!


So true! I am in too


I have thought the same thing when I see new churches start up. It’s a shame. I absolutely agree with all that you said.


“Truth demands absolute accuracy” Watchman Nee Love it! GREAT post!


All I can say is two things;


I’M IN!!!!!


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