Saturday, May 11, 2019

Presence-Driven Churches Remove the Word "Success" From Their Vocabulary


When the Presence-Driven Church removes the word “success” from its vocabulary, there will come the slow death of the quantitative measurement tools of the Church Growth Movement. 

The Church Growth Movement arose in the late twentieth century. Gary Black describes it this way.

“To track the quality of church membership, [Donald] McGavran suggested modern quantitative accounting methods to evaluate and measure specific determiners of church “success.” Therefore, the CGM methodology gradually emphasized the accumulation, public reporting, and management of key metrics and measurements of congregational accomplishment.”[1]

The Church Growth Movement focused on numbers – of new converts, of membership growth, of church service attendance, and of financial giving. Black writes that “Seeker Sensitive” or “Seeker Driven” churches are the logical and historical culmination of the Church Growth Movement. “If “crowds, cash, and converts” are growing, then successful contextualization of the gospel into the culture is believed to have occurred.”[2]

The Seeker Church eventually morphed into the Entertainment Church, for that is its logical outcome. The Entertainment Church applies “the latest, modern consumer marketing techniques and technologies... essential for displaying cultural acumen, creating an entertaining atmosphere, and maintaining brand loyalty in a competitive religious marketplace. The technology and marketing efforts focus directly on the Sunday morning “worship service.””[3]

Seeker-driven worship, at its quantitative worst, becomes the creation of a performance event, a spectacle, meant to entertain, for the sake of being successful. When a pastor, perhaps out of desperation for attendees, succumbs to this, he or she has committed what Eugene Peterson calls “vocational idolatry.”[4]

(For some really good stuff on the "metricization of culture" see two books by Neil Postman: Amusing Ourselves to Death, and Technopoly.
For more on Presence-Driven Churches see my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church.
Study the Presence-Driven Church with me in June in New York City - see HERE.
Study the Presence-Driven Church with me in June in Wisconsin - see HERE.)

[2] Ib., p. 35
[3] Ib.