It’s funny to joke about how the LCMS is always 20 years behind the times. The Baptists have already moved on from the trend-that-was, and the Lutherans finally discover it and then do it very badly because we are German and too inflexible and earnest. And because, frankly, it doesn’t fit with our doctrine or practice, but that’s not stopping anyone, is it?
But I’m not laughing when I think about the ULC situation. From that humble ministry has come 26 men to the Office of Holy Ministry (including my husband). Countless faithful laypeople. College students whose faith was fed and nurtured during a critical time in their lives.
Studying marketing and similar disciplines for a living, I see it like this:
Real world: Marketers have discovered an amazing insight that’s actually just how Grandma would have done it: Be authentic, tell the truth even when it’s not pleasant, create and foster genuine connections with people, and they will have a relationship with you.
Lutheran bubble: Meet people on their level, be “relevant,” use buzzwords like “relevant” so people will think you’re hip and not the stodgy old church, and do un-church-like activities in order to be “relevant.”
Real world: Inbound marketing is the idea that if you give away good information for free, you will attract quality people. Not everyone–because you can’t get, nor do you even want everyone–but people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
Lutheran bubble: Try to make church into product that can be mass-marketed to the most people on a superficial level. Use non-Biblical strategies from Rob Bell and Rick Warren and the church-marketer-du-jour to make your case.
The Lutheran faith is deep and rich. I hope it doesn’t take 20 years for those who would destroy the ULC ministry to see that.