Modern marketing won't save Christianity

Modern marketing won't save Christianity

As someone who grew up in an evangelical church for the majority of my life, I can attest to the strides that the church has made to make Christianity more modern, tech savvy, and even trendy. When church numbers —dollars and people — decline, the Church tries to make itself more relatable. It is a known fact that the number of millennials subscribing to the Christian religion is dropping, and many think the solution is better marketing.

As I was growing up in my church, I definitely noticed a decline in the congregation numbers overtime. With the decline, the church emphasized their new technology, new sound system, new graphics, and the most striking—a contemporary service. 

What is now the new normal, the contemporary service seemed to pop up as millennials started entering college, getting married, and having children. This type of service emphasized modern upbeat music, massive projection screens, packaged graphics, trendy apparel, and satellite services. The contemporary service repackaged the same messages into a modern twist — marketed perfectly to millennials.  

However, it turns out it wasn’t successful for just any millennial. It is only successful for the millennials who would have chosen the church with or without the new modern touches, those whose ancestry can be traced back by the pew their ancestors occupied. For those already sold on the message, updated equipment and music is just like upgrading your phone after a year to the newest model and claiming that the upgrade is revolutionary. At the end of the Sunday, the message remains the same, the teaching remains static, the wave of influence runs dry.  For us who have questioned, who have been an outsider to Christianity — we see the facade.

Veiling Christianity in a hundred different ways will not fool anyone but the people that have never doubted their faith. For the steadfast Christians, modern practices in the church serve only as an accompaniment to their devoutness. Modernism for the questioning Christians is seen as a desperate plea. Marketing the same, often tired message over and over again will not draw people toward Christianity. 

Instead, we should focus on the actual message. We should focus on inclusivity. We should focus on avoiding the double standards and hypocrisy that many Christians exude. We should focus on intellectualism. We should focus on deconstructing what we have been taught our entire life and have discussion and discourse on the doctrine. We should be openly questioning what we’re being taught and not having to take the message at face value. 

At the end of the day, I don’t care about how nice the message looks on a screen, or how clear the audio is, or how technologically advanced the church building is. I care about a dynamic message that transcends technology or cliche marketing. When we start changing the message itself instead of the vehicle in which we deliver the message, there will be a growth in Christianity. 

But until church administrations start to realize that we don’t need modernism and ostentatious marketing, don’t expect those who have turned away to come back.

Zach Boros is a sophomore majoring in psychology. His column runs biweekly. 

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