There’s a whole lot of saber rattling going on these days. Why? Because fear sells better than sex right now.
- The stock market is up 80%+ since March 2009.There’s a whole lot of money being made while the media scares you with news of recession.
- Crime is at historic lows. But there’s a whole lot of money made selling you things you don’t need like home alarm systems and guns. Gun sales are through the roof because the NRA scares people into thinking Obama is going to make handguns illegal.
- An entire segment of our economy is built around the 401k. A primary method people get you to invest in your 401k? Fear. Fear that you won’t have the lifestyle “you deserve” and fear that Social Security will go bankrupt. Tell me what would happen to a president who ended social security. Yeah, it’s not going to happen. Ever.
On and on. Much of our society and huge parts of our economy exist because their marketing keeps you fearful so you spend. It’s a distinctly American thing.
Economic theory says that once you start paying into something, even if it is a factual lie, you believe it because your money is there. (Want to see this in action? Listen to an IT professional try to tell you why a PC laptop is better than a MacBook. They really believe it and it’s completely ludicrous.)
The church isn’t far behind. We have learned that if we can scare parents that they will stick around. (And the church is infatuated with marketing right now. How many times has Seth Godin spoken at Catalyst now?)
- Want to raise money? Scare parents by telling them that without ____ their children won’t follow Jesus.
- Want to plant a church? Cite a bunch of stats about the churches decline. They’ll never ask about your strategy, just give you money.
You get the idea. We are trying to grow our churches with marketing schemes… and it’s not working, in case you haven’t noticed.
Here’s the thing: Creating a culture of fear in your ministry is not good news. It’s fools gold. It might draw some people but you’re drawing the wrong people. This is a major reason you can’t do anything in your church– you’ve drawn a crowd of scared people.
Last time I checked we weren’t asked to lead people into a life of making decisions based on fear. That’s the opposite of what Paul teaches…
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.