So why why why have Christian pastors and ministries followed the world of Internet junk e-mail advertising? What makes a pastor think he is the best thing since Jesus Christ and assumes all other churches are failing and he has the answer for every church's lack of growth? What makes a church decide that their discipleship program, several states away, is something I must have a need for?
Yes, I get these kind of e-mail newsletters produced through online services like Constant Contact and Mail Monkey. So many that at times I waste 30 minutes unsubscribing from their mail lists that I didn't ask to be on.
So why? Why do these ministers and ministries even advertise in the first place? I have two thoughts on this. The first relates to having a self promotion mentality. In business this is acceptable but not in ministry. Here is a biblical reference to make my point.
So He (Jesus) told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus' simple instruction is let others promote you. Be humble, be discrete, be submitted and let others acknowledge you and promote you. You say, "but Bob, how would people know about their ministries otherwise?" Hmmmm, trust God? Let's refer to the example of Jesus to answer that.
Jesus came to the world in this manner. When he was baptized by John the Baptist he came without any notice by the people there at the Jordan. He was just another Jew brother in their eyes. No self promotion for the Messiah. Instead he allowed himself to be acknowledged by the prophet of God, the Holy Spirit and the Father. As he ministered he even worked against himself by telling those he healed or delivered to "tell no one." Regardless people flocked to the shepherd to hear and be touched. Word spread and God was glorified.
Second reason is because many pastors are found wanting. Wanting to see their church grow in numbers, wanting to see people grow spiritually, wanting to see the spirit move, wanting for there to be deep worship, wanting of a vision, and wanting to hear God's voice. But instead of a day of prayer and fasting before God, rather than seek the scriptures for their wisdom, rather than holding to the principles taught by Christ, they seek the vision of others, the latest trend, the next big program or the latest marketing technique. So they become the focus group but it is a shot gun approach that scattered email buckshot in my direction.
Let me finish with a personal example. I and my family began attending Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley after relocating. Previously, I was ordained and served as a assistant youth pastor at a church in Riverside, CA. I remember so vividly The Lord speaking to me these words, "Bob, don't tell others that you are ordained, don't say what ministries you have served in, don't say anything about experience, just be quiet and watch what I do." He said this right when I was about to do so. So I obeyed and asked, "So what do you want me to do in the mean time, Lord?" "Just serve where there is a need," was his simply replied. So I did and it was remarkable what my God did. Within a year I was leading a home fellowship, within two years I was on the board of elders. It wasn't until my third year at the church that the pastor even discovered my previous service and ordination. I let the man of God, the Holy Spirit and the Father promote me. How much sweeter can it be than that.
You may think I am doing the same by having a website, being on twitter and Facebook. But I do not invade your email or the email of another pastor with these. People find me, ask to follow or friend me, are led to my site by a friend or family member, or through a web search. If you have found me and are ministered to, than "tell know one and give God the Glory."