Monday, September 22, 2008

What Catholics Don't Have: Slick Marketing

I recently viewed a non-denominational church's website and remembered well the "outreach" of the web.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for the Internet (of course!) and the many opportunities it affords to evangelize. However, there is a huge difference between Catholic parish websites and non-Catholic websites - and in my eyes, it is a very good thing.

In America, we've become brainwashed by Fifth Avenue. For those outside of this country, "Fifth Avenue" is a term often used to describe the advertising efforts that New York City has perfected. It's all about image, baby. At least, that's what "they" tell us.

This focus (and dare I say it - obsession) with image has now catwalked into most non-Catholic churches and strutted its stuff to the point where a good mega-church worth its salt must have an advertising/marketing/publicity department. Visit any website of a mega-non-denominational church and you'll be greeted with the web wizardry of Flash media, embedded videos, downloadable worship songs - all glossed with slick colors and of course, the ubiquitous taglines.

Since when did churches need taglines?

Well, in the United States, taglines are as common as a corner Starbucks. They're everywhere.

"Come As You Are - You'll Be Loved!"

"The Little Church With The Big Heart!"

"40 Days of Love: We Were Made For Relationships!" (the newest campaign from Saddleback Church)

"Disciples Making Disciples!"

I mean, yeesh. Are we so shallow with our religion that we need a constant holy carrot dangling before our eyes in order to lead us to that noon Sunday service?

While my husband and I were taking a bike ride, we pulled into a denominational church's parkinig lot. When we left, I noticed the sign heading toward the main road. It had a cheery little goodbye: "Thanks For Popping In!"

This cultivates a terrible attitude about going to church. Instead of it being a holy event, a time to break away from the rabid self-centeredness of the world - we are instead faced with it while trying to worship God. It's all about the "Wow!"

Holiness does indeed elicit a response, but it's not a "Wow, that's so cool!" It's more of a "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned..." It's a place where we know we can't hoodwink God. A place where the facade of the world's pleasures and distractions are to fall away as we glimpse our sinful humanity, God's divine mercy, and the amazing sacrifice Jesus Christ made by submitting to His Father's will by taking up His Cross.

Those kind of truths don't play well on a slickly produced website or a multi-media mega-church presentation.

Thank God for the Catholic Church. No bells or whistles. Just pure conviction as I get my head, heart, and soul straightened out for another week in Babylon.


Chris said...

I think you are on to something, Mary very-traditional parish has about the plainest website I've ever seen- definitely needs a facelift...
But by golly, right there FRONT and CENTER is the Mass, Confession and Devotions schedule. I like the message that sends! :D

Chris said...

PS- we don't have a tagline or a "mission statement" either! :D

X said...

But we DO have bells! (wink!)

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

and smells :)