Going Green(back)

More than likely, you’ve received the following notice (or some variation thereof) from your financial institution, mortgage company, credit card company, etc.

Acme Bank will begin processing our 2009 year end statements on January 2, 2010. All year end statements will be mailed on or before January 31, 2010. In an effort to be more eco-friendly in our approach to sending out year end statements, we will no longer provide the history on the year end statement.

“Eco-friendly”? Are they serious? What is so eco-friendly about cutting down on the amount of paper that they mail out each year? Paper, the last time I checked, was still a renewable resource.

And answer me this, eco-earth-day-proponents… If mailing out less paper is an example of being eco-friendly, then why do I still get junk mail, weekly ads tossed onto my driveway, flyers hung on my front door, and up to 18 different versions of the same Holiday (read: Christmas) catalog per merchant I do business with (plus another half dozen versions via the merchants I rarely do business with)?

It seems to me that sending out less paper has less to do with being eco-friendly than it does with saving printing costs, resource expenditures, and postage expenses.

This disingenuous view of being ecologically responsible was evidenced at my place of employment, recently, when a new initiative of daytime cleaning was implemented. The cleaning crews, normally dispatched in the evenings, when the office workers had gone home, now do their rounds during working hours. One of the driving reasons behind the initiative was that it was tremendously cost effective, since less money would be spent on utilities to support the cleaning crew at night. Another big “benefit”, we were told, was that such an initiative was environmentally friendly. As part of the marketing promotion for the policy change, we were even given plastic toy figures stamped with “Going Green” on them. Never mind the fact that the production of such items is, in itself, not a green activity.

So, the moral of the story is, in order to better sell an idea that minimizes your own company’s cost expenditures… simply stamp it GREEN.

Evangelical Loss Leaders in an anti-Christian society

You’ve certainly seen the advertisement before; that which features a certain item, priced ridiculously low. In fact, it’s priced so low that you ask, “How can they sell it at that price and turn a profit?” Well, they can’t. It’s a loss leader, designed solely to entice people into the sales establishment upon which, it is hoped, they will purchase additional items, thereby resulting in an overall profit to the store.

The point to be taken here is that the loss leader tactic is simply a part of an overall marketing strategy – a philosophy, if you will, which fits squarely within the economic system of capitalism, to which growth and profit are generally accepted as the primary goals.

I wonder, how wedded to capitalism is the evangelical church in America?

Recently, there was a concert staged, at our church, specifically designed as an outreach to the youth in the community surrounding the church. Whereas there is typically 25 youth at a Wednesday night meeting, there were 120 youth in attendance at this concert.

Was this a loss leader? A means of enticing people in the doors, and then banking on the “numbers”, the probability that a certain percentage of them would desire to come back?

Such a tactic is hardly limited to a youth concert in 2009. I’ve grown up in the church and can look back and see the tactic deftly applied throughout my life. It is, in fact, our modus operandi.

Yet, despite the church adopting capitalistic strategies, and despite the false success of mega-churches, we now see an America which is turning its back on Christianity. Our society is becoming decidedly secular and, in particular, anti-Christian, in its base form.

While we may have succeeded in entertaining the masses, how much of the Gospel has truly been delivered? In a recent Bible Study, my pastor made note of the fact that many scholars think that the church in Corinth, that which Paul was writing to, was made up of about 40 people.

40 people.

If an evangelical capitalist had written the letters to the Corinthians, I daresay he would have given them a detailed explanation of marketing tactics designed specifically to result in church growth. Yet Paul makes no mention of church growth methodologies. He simply tells the Corinthians how to live as Christians.

What a concept.