Most would agree that we as Christians should be upright, authentic, and filled with integrity. Yet, sometimes we find churches using church growth tactics that are deceitful or manipulative.
Ways Churches Might Use Manipulation to Attract People & Grow:
Bribe people to attend.
You coax them to come by giving them a free meal or free gift.
Meet needs with ulterior motives.
You have programs like a food or clothes bank solely to evangelize, not simply because you have compassion.
Bait and switch.
You do things to make people feel all warm and fuzzy, telling them what they want to hear, until they are in and then you drop the hammer.
Lay a guilt trip on people.
You use their children as tools, telling them that if they really cared about their children, they would take them to church.
Play to people’s fears.
You emphasize hell, fire, and brimstone when in reality, there is more to the Gospel message they need to hear.
Ways Churches Can Avoid Using Manipulation in Church Growth Efforts:
If we feel we have to push or pull (manipulate) people into the kingdom, or at least to our churches, then we need to:
- Focus on keeping God as the main attraction, pointing to Jesus as the One who can meet their deepest needs.
- Trust in the Lord, through His Spirit, to work in people’s lives.
- Follow the way of love that does no harm (Rom. 13:10), knowing that you have gained little that counts for eternity if you don’t have love (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
- Invest into building authentic relationships with people, not taking the easy way out by wooing them with gimmicks.
- Wholeheartedly pursue the honest, truthful path, doing what you do because you truly love people and want to help them, not merely because you want to grow your church.
- Examine marketing tactics with God’s honor as the standard, not rationalizing that the end justifies the means.