Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Marketing God - Warren's bestseller shows churches use same basics

Essays: 'Closing the God gap' by James Crabtree | Prospect Magazine October 2008 issue 151:
"Much of the cost of running the $20m church is met by the proceeds of Warren's wildly successful first book, The Purpose Driven Life. Published in 2002, the book's promise of salvation through a handy '40-day spiritual journey' found favour with churchgoers and celebrities alike. Readers seemed drawn to its rather banal message of the need to move beyond material concerns, and find a higher calling through engagement with faith and community. Warren claims the book is an 'anti-self-help book.' Its bullet point lists and easily digestible summaries nonetheless owe a debt to regular airport self-improvement manuals. It sold at least 30m copies: more than any work of American non-fiction of the last decade.

Theologian Harvey Cox thinks such innovations are key to the success of Warren's more liberal, relaxed brand of theology. 'Its all about market share. These churches are in competition for many of the same people, on the ground and through the media. The competition is fierce.' A believer in market research, Warren spent time studying America's largest churches. He and his wife also went door to door, interviewing local residents. Church, people told him, was neither fun nor rewarding. To change this Saddleback became one the first churches in America to combine glitzy services with the chance to"

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