Market-Driven Ministry: Blessing Or Curse? Part One -- By: David M. Doran

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 01:1 (Spring 1996)
Article: Market-Driven Ministry: Blessing Or Curse? Part One
Author: David M. Doran

Market-Driven Ministry:
Blessing Or Curse?
Part One

David M. Doran

* Dr. Doran is Chancellor and Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, and Pastor of the Inter-City Baptist Church in Allen Park, MI.

Dr. William R. Rice was pastor of the Inter-City Baptist Church from 1949–1989. Over the course of those forty years, God’s grace was evident upon his life and ministry. From a struggling congregation of less than ninety, Dr. Rice led the church through enormous growth, ultimately reaching an average attendance of 1,500. He also started a Christian pre-school and day school, bookstore, retirement home, and Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. Only eternity will reveal the impact of Dr. and Mrs. Rice’s surrender to the Lord’s will. It was under Dr. Rice’s ministry that I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior and was baptized, graduated from the Christian school, served in my first pastoral staff ministry, was married, received my seminary education, and was mentored for my present place of ministry. I thank God for the privilege of growing up physically and spiritually under his ministry. Few pastors have combined the aggressive leadership and commitment to Scripture that characterized Dr. Rice. He was never afraid to be innovative and industrious in the pursuit of church growth, yet he was never willing to compromise God’s Word or slacken his commitment to expositional preaching.

It is precisely for those reasons, Dr. Rice’s aggressive and undivided commitment to church growth, holiness, and preaching, that this article is dedicated to him. Unfortunately, there are prevalent philosophies about church growth that ignore these last two commitments. The marketing movement is one of the newest and fastest growing of these. The widespread acceptance of the marketing philosophy and the aggressiveness with which it is being promoted, makes it necessary that pastors and other ministry leaders become aware of its principles and practices.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the rationale behind the movement, the basic principles upon which a marketing approach is built, and the methods employed in marketing. This essay will also begin to critique the marketing movement by examining its practical and biblical arguments for the adoption of a marketing orientation. A second essay, appearing in the next issue of the Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal, will deal fully with the philosophy that undergirds the marketing approach to ministry.

Proper assessment of the marketing movement demands that we gain a thorough appreciation of its principles. It is undeniable that the marketing concepts curr...

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