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A church for all people?

“The Episcopal Church Welcomes You,” proclaim signs, websites, banners and bumper stickers. In trying to live out our understanding of the Gospel, we want to include everyone, to exclude no one. But can it be done?

Marketers know a thing or two about inclusion and exclusion. Many make their living by engineering one or the other–or both. So I was interested when I saw marketing guru Seth Godin write this

The first thing I’d ask myself before launching a product, a service, or a candidate is, “who are we leaving out?” If the answer is no one, be prepared for uncharted waters. The future of marketing (at least the big successes) is going to be fueled by those with the guts to embrace the masses.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to have any advice here for how to go about not leaving anyone out. Uncharted territory to be sure, and I’m not sure how I feel about the marketers laying their claim first.

He also leaves a warning:

while people are delighted to be included (and seem to enjoy excluding others), the benefits they feel are dwarfed by the anger and disappointment of those excluded. It’s something that people remember for their entire lives.

I suspect most people who have worked in or with churches for long enough know this, but I’m always glad for a reminder.

{ 3 } Comments

  1. QFC | February 23, 2008 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    This is an interesting counterpoint to another sentiment starting to emerge (or re-emerge?) in our church (and in Protestantism generally), which is that we can’t be all things to all people, so let those who feel excluded go off and start their own church.

    All successful organizations have to stay true to their core values in order to cohere as an organization, offering a product or service in line with those values. At least as far as the church is concerned, I suspect the solution here is not to try to make our “product” more appealing to a broader spectrum of people, but to offer more and diverse kinds of products, all together under God’s big, happy trade show tent.

  2. Miranda | February 24, 2008 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    A church I know has a sign on its parking lot that says, “Welcome to So and So’s Episcopal Church… Park at your own risk.”
    I could go all deep here about the risks of being included, and of including… but I think I’ll just leave it be.

  3. Pamela Smith | February 28, 2008 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    At the Mission at Saint Luis Obispo in southern California – on the entrance tickets – circa 1978 -

    Park at your own Risk
    NO BAILMENT IS CREATED
    Via con Dios!

    It made quite an impression on me -

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