On the whole, I consider myself a pretty loving, hospitable, and gracious person. I don’t get worked up over too much, I’m a pretty good listener, and I have a fairly high pain-tolerance for difficult people. But there is one thing that drives me crazy: a gimmick.
I can’t stand gimmicks. I despise the bait and switch mentality, where I feel like I am being sold a bill of goods. I get so annoyed when I am l led to believe one thing is true and then come to find out it was all a farce. I can’t stand being fed a line. And I’m guessing I’m not the only person in our church that has a pretty low level of patience for gimmicky conversations and marketing.
Unfortunately, this model of branding and marketing has become increasingly prevalent in our society. A new pyramid scheme crops up every day and my phone is constantly ringing with automated scam phone calls. And I’ve found myself having almost zero tolerance for the gimmicks of our society. While I’m certainly not rude to the telemarketers who call daily, they don’t often get to see my kind, pastoral side. I can’t stand gimmicks.
And yet Christians, churches, and ministries succumb to this type of conversation, branding, and marketing as well…and it’s a terrible shame. We advertise our churches as something we aren’t. We try to get people in the door through bait-and-switch tactics. We too often aren’t open and honest about who we are, what we are passionate about, and what it will mean for people to be a part of our church. Instead, we put on a show, trying to make ourselves cooler than we actually are, and people can smell our hypocrisy and insincerity from miles away.
Now, I’m using the royal ‘we’ here to remind us all that it is really easy to slip into this gimmick mentality. But in all sincerity, I am SO proud of our church for generally being an anti-gimmick kind of church – open, honest, and real; doing ministry out of our true identity, rather than always wishing we were some other church; and certainly not trying to puff out our chests and pretend we are better or cooler than we are in an effort to get people through the door.
So, I'm thankful my church isn't like this. I'm thankful they are a church that is passionate about Jesus, comfortable in its own skin, and never interested in being something other than their true identity. And I'm thankful that they resist the pressure of a bait-and-switch way of engaging with the community. I hope we can commit to always being a no-gimmick church.