In a world of “cord cutters” who increasingly get their content online, cable companies are locked in a brutal battle for “pay TV customers.” And as the pool of pay TV customers shrinks, the battle has gotten meaner and nastier than ever. Just ask Comcast how they felt about DirectTV’s recent campaign!
If you haven’t seen the Rob Lowe ads, here’s the gist. Basically, attractive, happy Rob Lowe watches DirectTV, while his alter-egos (ie., Super Creepy Rob Lowe, Scrawny Arm Rob Lowe, and Broken Down, Less Attractive Rob Lowe) have cable. Basically, if you want to be like successful Rob, switch to DirectTV. If not, keep cable. And it appears to be working.
Though DirectTV had lost 28,000 subscribers in the 3rd quarter of 2014, “when the campaign started its run, the company gained 149,000 subscribers.” That hurts. So Comcast appealed to the National Advertising Division, and the NAD actually agreed that DirectTV should pull the ads. Sorry, DirectTV, but some claims are just TOO outlandish!
It is striking to me that the Church might be facing a similar problem today. And as the pool of Bible-believing, church-attending people shrinks, some churches might panic and feel the need to “go DirectTV” in response. But churches aren’t cable companies! And while it might add numbers in the short run, growing a congregation by shrinking another doesn’t bring glory to God.
Now, I want to be clear – I don’t mean that we need to quit denouncing false religion. False religion needs to be denounced (Paul says they need to be “silenced,” ie., Titus 1:11). And I’m not saying anyone should stop promoting their positives (Paul praises congregations that are doing well, ie., Colossians 1:3-4). But before talking negatively about another congregation, churches ought to consider one simple question: “Does this follow God’s model for growth?”
Why would we emulate the failed system of customer swapping when the pool of unbelievers has so much more potential to bring glory to God? Let’s go into ALL the world, making disciples, baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).
The truth is, gaining new “customers” is hard. It costs far more time, effort, and money. It causes us to go into unfamiliar territory. It forces us to speak to those who, in many cases, have “cut the cord” of religion altogether. Yet, the only model Jesus gave us was to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). And to God be the glory!