I used to work for the world's biggest advertiser. We spent more money in more ways that anyone on the planet to get our products in front of people. When you combined that with the fact that in most cases our products were the best in their particular market segment, it made for some good selling for folks like me who called on stores and warehouses. If you couldn't sell Crest toothpaste, Pepto-Bismol, Folgers coffee, Crisco, Charmin etc. with all that going for you, well... there were people waiting in line to get your job who would.
Going to a supermarket or drugstore chain headquarters I could truthfully say we had the best product with the most support for them to sell it to the consumer. There were times when I convinced the retailer to sell my product to the consumer for LESS than the retailer paid for it. Why would they do that? Because people would make a special trip to buy my product, and once they were there they would buy other items too.
Those were the days.
Now as the pastor of a church I am working on an advertisement for our local newspaper. It's been a while since we advertised at all. We preferred spending the money on orphanages, wells, water purification, or HIV meds. But we need a greater presence in the area, and we have a couple who wants to see us get that so much they have paid for the ads. So now the dilemma arises - what do we say in the ads?
Unlike in my previous advertising experience, I can not confidently say that we have the best "product with the best support." That'd be wrong in a couple of ways. I really don't want to think of what we do as a "product." And when I think of what support we have here, I think of God. We have amazingly generous people who give of their time and money sacrificially - but it's all God's time and God's money - so it doesn't feel right to brag about that. And when I look at what we have to offer, lots of churches have more.
So now what?
I think we make our case by what we do.
We admit that we are imperfect.
And that we can do anything through Jesus Christ if it is His will.
I'm deeply in love with the people God has placed at New Hope and with the community God has given us to serve. I expect we'll never be everything everyone wants. I accept that I will, that we will - disappoint people.
But I will follow Jesus and encourage people in my care to do the same. We will not hoard. We will not fear or worry about the future. We will love, we will give sacrificially, we will serve the least of these.
So if you see an ad for an "Imperfect Church", come see what it looks like in person. :)