The question, what’s driving the market driven church, may seem absurd and ridiculous and one may feel that the obvious answer is “the market.” However, that any church is driven by the market is only the fruit of the problem and not the root of the problem. So let me rephrase the question: what is at the root of the market driven church?
Now most surely those within and promoting the market driven church would assign pure and noble motives to their actions. They would say that they are serving God with zeal through their man-centered and market driven methods. They would see nothing wrong with taking, what Robert Schuller describes as, “the human-needs approach”, in order to impress and attract the un-churched (Robert H. Schuller, Self Esteem: The New Reformation, Word Books, Waco Texas, 1982, page 12-13). Therefore not only are the programs of the church marketed to the “needs” (and I should also say “greeds”) of the community; the preaching of the church is also marketed in the same fashion. When this happens man becomes the focus and audience, culture is elevated to the place of preeminence, the Word of God is lowered to the place of being less than the prime authority in ministry, and Christ is dethroned as the head of the church.
However, pleasing men by meeting their desires through the programs and preaching of the church has never been and never will be God’s design for His church. The programs and preaching of the church must please God and not man. The message of the Master judges men and is sovereign and not the judgment of men on the message. One of the preacher’s primary responsibilities is to remember who is the real audience and who is the real judge of the message he proclaims – “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:1-4).
So now we can see two totally opposite approaches to ministry: a man-centered approach where pleasing men is the goal; and a God-centered approach to ministry where pleasing God is the goal. A man-centered approach to ministry requires no biblical faith at all to do while a God-centered approach to ministry can’t be done without it.
This brings us to the place where we can answer the question: What’s driving the market driven church? The fear (reverence) of man!
Whenever one is more concerned about what man desires than what God desires, he is motivated by the fear of man rather than the fear of God; he is more interested in reverencing man than he is in reverencing God. Deeply ingrained in a man-centered approach to ministry is self-preservation – no persecution when all men speak well of you – and self-promotion – desiring to be popular in order to receive glory from one another and not the glory that is from the one and only God (see John 5:44).
So the question that we must answer is will we be popular, market driven, motivated by the fear of man or will we be God’s spokesmen, persecuted for the sake of righteousness, truth driven, motivated by the fear of God?
The fear of man is at the root and is driving the market driven church!