The Next-Wave online magazine has an interesting article on George Barna’s State of the Church 2005. The piece dives into Barna’s latest findings about the church, compares them with his 2002 findings and gives a sorry picture of the church (the author also beats a poor restaurant metaphor to death).
In 2002, Barna suggested that there are greater than 300,000 Protestant and 20,000 Catholic churches in the U.S. He contrasts this with the 50,000 post offices and 15,000 McDonald’s that serve our nation. He writes, “the church has less impact on our culture than any of those less prolific entities, despite missions that are much less significant or compelling.”
…When your franchise’s performance is benchmarked against the U.S. postal service and your outfit comes out on the short-end, perhaps it’s time for a change.
At one point the article says that churches have “changed the ambiance, the music, the lighting, added video screens, pastors, elders, and websites, embraced bigger buildings with different architectural features, turned to new delivery systems, serving up their products via seminars, books cds, dvds, live television and training by subscription satellite broadcasts,” and yet none of it seems to work.
If it’s really as bad as that (is it?) what is the church to do? Marketing alone isn’t the answer, but it seems marketing should help us get to the answer (good marketing won’t save a crappy product, it’ll send you back to the drawing board).