His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Christianity has gone commercial


“Shrinking mainline Protestant denominations are turning to marketing to help stem decades of membership losses and stay afloat.” So begins an Associated Press article I recently read in my local newspaper. It seems churches, such as the United Methodist Church, believe large amounts of advertising dollars will help fill the pews again. The Methodists are spending $20 million on their ad campaign.

I can’t help but wonder, what would Jesus do if he were in charge of filling the pews? Would he throw money at the problem of dwindling attendance, or something else?

Jesus and his apostles were faced with a similar challenge around 2000 years ago; how to increase attendance. And yet in a single day, the church in Jerusalem added 3000 new members (Acts 2:41). Christianity spread throughout the Mediterranean in a phenomenally rapid manner, and without the help of television, the internet, or pesky telemarketers. How did they do it? What was their “marketing” secret?

The answers to these questions illustrate the differences between them and today’s mainline churches. The first church leaders devoted themselves to the truth. They were passionate about spreading the truth of the gospel. Their message was not always popular, and many lost their lives because of it, but that didn’t stop them from sticking to the truth.

Today’s mainline churches take a different approach. Many of them preach whatever they think would be a popular message, the politically correct message, with little regard for the truth. They have lost touch with Jesus. That is why they continue to shrink; they are no longer attached to the true vine. When a branch is cut from the vine, it shrivels up and dies. That is what is happening to many mainline churches today, and no amount of advertising will help. What they need to do is become re-attached to Jesus.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15:5-6)

I dare say that the $20 million from the Methodist Church would be better spent feeding the poor, rather than feeding Madison Avenue ad agencies.


Author: CJ Penn

First, my writing isn't about me. Don’t want the attention, don’t want to feed my ravenous ego (yep, I’m just a typical pride-plagued human). But I love writing - it gets me out of bed when it's way too dark, just so I can do some writing before heading off to work. I write because I’m passionate about God, Jesus, His Spirit, and His truth. And, I feel the Holy Spirit gets shortchanged in the world we call Christianity. The truth is sometimes lacking too.

3 thoughts on “Christianity has gone commercial

  1. Hi E.D.,

    While I am seeking priesthood within the Episcopal church-a mainline church like the Methodists–I certainly agree that budgeting $20 million is ridiculous.

    The words of my home church’s vicar stick in my head everyday: “Who do you serve?” They help me question whether what we do is serving Jesus and others or ourselves. And the monies spent here is surely wasted.

    I mean, really, who is the $20 million really benefitting–clergy salaries, building costs, perpetuating an organization for the organization’s sake? This is money tithed to the church by its members believing that their donations will be put to good use.

    It would make sense to establish something that would benefit society with that money: a food bank, creating safer homeless shelters, perhaps even free medical aid to the poor, the skies the limits.

    If attendance is what the Methodist Church is concerned with, then people would definitely be on fire about a church that used the monies to make a major impact improving the world around us. And NOT “hey look at me! Welcome to the ____ Church.”

    Just my two cents!

    God Bless,


    Thanks again for a great post.


  2. Thanks Leo,
    I agree. I think a church would do more to fill pews by spending money to help the needy, rather then on advertising.


  3. E.D.

    I agree *that* and working alongside local non-profits, helping each other to help their fellow man or woman or child, will do a ton more than spending millions of dollars.

    I can imagine it would work especially well if both groups were to set aside possible differing ideologies (if they do exist) and find a common ground–filling the needs of the needy.

    It’s all about “loving God with all our heart, mind, body and soul” and “loving our neighbor as we do ourselves” in the end. It’s what God wants of us and what people need.



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