April 13, 2014

Easter is Coming, Churches are Advertising


I scanned the image to the right after it showed up in my mailbox last week in the form of a slick 5x7 postcard. The back is an invitation to attend Easter services at the largest Southern Baptist megachurch in the town where I live.

Based on the quality of the thick card stock and the colorful, glossy image, I have to assume these were not inexpensive to print and mail. It seems like something far more positive than boosting their attendance for a day could have been accomplished with this money. Then again, I suppose increased attendance would likely lead to increased donations.

How cynical of me! Aren't they doing this mostly to spread the "good news" in which they claim to believe? Maybe. I'm not quite ready to rule that out as a possible explanation. But more and more, I find myself suspicious that most Christians living in the United States today do not genuinely believe much of what they claim to believe. At least, very few seem to live their lives as if they believed much of what they say they believe. This often looks like hypocrisy, but I suppose it could be something else. Perhaps Christians find strength, social acceptance, or other benefits from their claims of belief.

When I look at this mailing, I cannot help but find it a bit surprising that a church, especially this particularly massive megachurch, would need to advertise Easter services. In the days when I was forced to attend church, one could always count on it being full on Easter and Christmas. But the church I attended as a child was no megachuch. I guess it must be fairly difficult to fill those without a celebrity pastor of some sort, even on Easter.

Since I have lived in Mississippi, I'd estimate that I receive church advertisements in my mailbox roughly 2-3 times each month. I don't recall receiving these from established churches anywhere else I've lived; I can only remember the new churches advertising like this. I suppose this may be a reflection of how many more churches per capita there are here. More churches means more competition to fill the pews. Still, it strikes me as a bit surprising that they would need to advertise Easter services.