Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Church Dreams?!?

Call me cynical, but the other day my wife and I were driving down the highway and saw a billboard for ChurchDreams.com, with little fine print at the bottom identifying it as an ad for Irving Bible Church. Now, choosing a domain like "ChurchDreams" screams out to me. I can't put into words exactly what it screams, but it screams. So I decided to go check it out and see for myself.

It took me several minutes of animation and cool "ooh-aah" graphics to find any mention of God, let alone Christ or His Word, but I did manage to find them eventually. Allow me to quote the first piece of text that popped up at me (once the Flash animation stopped), for those who don't want to go see it for themselves:

We dream of a church where people find real help, experience real change and discover real answers; where destructive lifestyles, habits, addictions, and compulsions are forever jettisoned; where wasted lives are retrieved and new beginnings are launched.

Great, I guess that means I can go there instead of seeing my therapist. Contrast this with Christ Presbyterian Church, where the primary text you see on the home page is:
"Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness."

That may not feel as good as IBC's therapy, but it certainly seems more Biblical. Suffice it to say I couldn't find any links to the Westminster Confession of Faith, or any other theological documents on IBC's site.

Now, before anyone decides I'm being overly harsh, keep in mind that this is the church I attended from elementary school until I was just out of college. I have dear friends and family at this church. I am not trying to slam the church or discourage people from going there. I just can't believe what their website proclaims in an effort to communicate their intention to the world.

There are a lot of great people and programs at IBC, and I know many there personally that have a heart for the Gospel. I have to ask, though, why they are presenting themselves like a self-help seminar or a "place to hang out", when we as Christians have a much higher calling. Maybe it's a good way to get people in the door, and then you hit them with the Gospel when they least expect it. Maybe they are afraid people will be scared away by the use of words like "holiness" and "salvation".

And maybe some Christians who long for a place to worship and hear God's Word will be scared away by this advertising campaign.


tODD said...

by making them wait for all the Flash animations to finish before drawing a new page.

The only question I would raise spiritually concerns the opening text: "People are defined by their dreams. Churches are no different."

I realize that this is the underlying theme of the whole marketing angle, but I would really argue that point. Sure, it's not very hip or interesting to say that we are defined as God defines us, as sinners sanctified by Jesus' atoning sacrifice, and that all our dreams are pretty much meaningless, excepting "thy will be done". But I would dare say that the Bible wasn't written to appeal to any one demographic.

Rollin said...

Todd, again, excellent points. That bit about churches being no different was gnawing at me. I couldn't put my finger on just why, but you're exactly right!

As regards accessibility of the site, you raise an interesting question in my mind. How accessible is my site? I have tried it in Netscape (4 and 6), IE (5.5 and 6), Opera, Konqueror, and Lynx. I installed Mozilla last night but didn't think to try my own page. Besides Netscape 4, which I won't even attempt to account for, how does bredenbergs.com appear in your browsers? I'd appreciate any comments to help make it better.