Evangelism: marketing or recruiting?

The Telegraph‘s George Pitcher

What [aggressive evangelism of the Victorian variety] leads to is a sales-performance mindset for the Church, obsessed with the headcount in the pews rather than what the household of faith does with its ministry. And we end up with enjoyable but rather pointless poster campaigns about Jesus Christ as Che Guevara or Mary’s “bad-hair day”.

A great former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, famously said that the Church was the only institution to exist for the sole purpose of its non-members. This could be taken as a command to evangelism, but Temple did not say that its purpose was to make new members. What he was saying was that the duty of the Church is to serve the world in which it finds itself.

So, if marketing is not the correct management discipline, what is? I would suggest that the Church of England abandons the marketing department in favour of the personnel function, or Human Resources as it is more often known these days. The HR department of a company looks after job descriptions and contracts and the Church of England needs to understand its contract with the people. The HR staff will have a diversity policy and a concern for the work/life balance and the welfare of its employees; in extreme cases it should sack people who grossly misbehave. And, yes, HR is responsible for recruitment, a much better word than conversion or evangelism. Recruitment is an offer, not a command, and is attractive and responsible. It invites people in rather than shoving something down their throats.

Read it at the Telegraph‘s Faithbook blog. The subject of the post is the call by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, to do more to convert British Muslims to the Church of England.

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