Engaging Culture

Don’t Let Your Church End Up Like Playboy Magazine

The Playboy empire has been crumbling for a number of years, and the latest news is that founder Hugh Hefner wants to sell his iconic mansion in Beverly Hills – but he wants to find an buyer who will let him live there for the rest of his life.  At one time the Playboy empire represented the top of the mountain when it came to the sexual revolution. Celebrities, top athletes, rock stars, and big name executives crowded around the parties that were regularly thrown at the mansion, complete with scantily clad bunnies. But today that empire is dying because the world has changed, and for too long, Playboy didn’t see it coming.

Today, someone can view far more explicit pornography on the Internet. For years, the solution was trying to elevate it’s centerfold photography to a “classier” level, thereby keeping a higher reputation than it’s competitors. But it didn’t take long for their own photos to regularly end up on the web where former magazine subscribers could view them for free. Like many other magazines, Playboy was blindsided by changes in technology and culture.

Sadly, far too many churches are being blindsided in different ways.  From pastors who thought the Internet would eventually go away, to others who assumed social media was just for kids, and still others who didn’t understand the way the Internet was changing social engagement and the way we communicate.

You don’t have to have an Instagram account to realize how these new platforms have transformed the way people communicate.

Today, too many pastors still assume that people will come to the church, when the truth is, the church needs to go to the people.

In a distracted and hyper-competitive world, it’s time we changed the way we share our message, or we’ll continue to move to the margins of our culture.

Today we live in an unlimited choice world. Which means it’s not just the best message that gets heard, it’s the message than knows how to cut through and get noticed. That’s why perception matters more than any time in history. As a result, we need to start thinking about how Christianity is immediately perceived in today’s culture – because that determines whether or not they’ll walk in the door, listen to our media, or read our books.

If he can find a buyer, Hugh Hefner will be content to live out the rest of his days in a rented mansion, far from the spotlight he used to command.  And if we don’t learn to engage technology and culture for the cause of Christ, pastors will soon be living out their days in an empty church, far from making a difference in people’s lives.

 – Photo by Wiki Common

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