Ok, here’s another game we’ve developed after wading through the junk mail. There’s an odd familiar ring to some of the propaganda that is sent out from Lutheran synods. With the constant drumbeat of missions behind darn near everything that is written, the synods end up sounding mighty similar to multi-level marketing organizations (pyramid schemes).
You start with a product and a leader who gathers around him/herself a small group of “believers”, gets them all fired up to go tell others about the wonders of Amway, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple, Tupperware, Lia Sophia, Herbalife, Shaklee, Creative Memories, or Jesus, then sends out those from the small group to form their own small groups and get new people fired up. Hopefully, some from these small groups will also see the benefits of being part of the organization and make a formal commitment. Then they can go form their own small groups and the conversion continues. Just as there is no need for a Mary Kay salesperson to ever set foot in the door of the corporate headquarters, there also seems to be no need for Lutheran pyramid scheme operators to get themselves to their assumed source, the Church. No, the impression is given that the small groups are the answer. They will self-perpetuate divorced from the preached Word and the administered Sacraments. The big show on Sunday becomes the rally to get more new people to sign up for the small groups, with hopes that they will then eventually form and lead their own small groups.
This approach of marketing the Gospel may explain some of the backdoor losses the Lutheran church experiences. If you come into the church because of the inspirational high of emotionally charged music and worship or because of a Lutheran testimonial to what wonderful things have happened in the life of another since joining a church, how difficult is it to leave when things start to go badly in your life or if the emotional high doesn’t come as readily as it once did? This same burnout is seen in MLM salespeople who come in excited and assured that all will now be well with them, but then fall away when the promises of exorbitant wealth, free time, and happiness aren’t kept. Reminds one of Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed.
This pyramid scheme evangelism ignores the cross Christ promised to His followers and makes unrealistic promises and unScriptural demands on new members. No, your life might not get outwardly happier or easier if you join a Lutheran church. No, you don’t HAVE TO join a social group in a congregation to BE INVOLVED. No, it isn’t necessary to membership in Christ’s Church to receive phone calls from other, more established members inviting you, the new sucker, to every potluck, coffee hour, kids’ concert, meeting, fundraiser, or picnic under the sun.
Church isn’t primarily about us; it’s about Christ. Only after it’s about Christ is it about us. Never underestimate your own insignificance.
So, at long last, which of the quotations below is from a Lutheran church leader? Bonus points* if you can guess** the source of any of the others, too.
- “This invitation to dream, however, is not one that asks you to dream with your eyes closed and simply to imagine what can be. Rather, this invitation asks you to dream with your eyes wide open.”
- “The rewards of lending a helping hand to others or being the recipient of an act of kindness leads to an atmosphere of trust, caring and relationship building.”
- “_________ meetings are full of shared energy, enthusiasm, and excitement.”
- “It’s so simple, yet makes such a difference. Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important’.”
*If you send us real money, we will send out real prizes
**”Guess” means no internet searches