Church Sucks. (according to pastor)

A Eugene Church is spreading marketing all over town saying that “Church Sucks”.

In case you’re wondering… the church actually did take one tip from me (though they didn’t ask permission!)… a 30 minute service.  That’s the first church I’ve seen that’s doing that (which I’ve thought was a winner for a church that is trying to be really targetted to people who don’t normally attend church).

Watch the story… I’d love your input…

Great way to reach people in Eugene?

Would you do a series like this in your town?  Why or why not?



  • steve miller September 25, 2013 Reply

    Depends on the target audience and community. Probably good for the unchurched and dechurched in a college town. That catchy title is not going to fly in our little 8k podunk Ohio town.

  • Stephen Canfield September 25, 2013 Reply

    I had this same campaign idea about 8 years ago in Shcertz TX but my Senior Pastor thought it was too risky, he was probably right for our city and time. This could probably work in an unchurched area like Eugene.

    I ran a similar campaign in Ann Arbor that was a parody of the God billboards. It had statements that were more raw like, “Yes, the church is full of hypocrites. -God” and “Don’t change a thing. -God” and the last one was, “There is a new church in town…think I might show up.-God” They all got really good responses from the city, except from other churches.

  • Charles Rigby September 25, 2013 Reply

    If your down to 30 minutes then why have one. I couldn’t understand why anyone would take the effort to go to a 30 minute service unless they did it as a way to appease the gods. If your going that direction then take the gospel to the marketplace. Go rent an open public space and capture real people where they are. Don’t build a pool and then challenge people to dip their tie in it for 30 minutes a week. Some religious groups demand dedication and effort every day. Let’s get back to soul winning on a one on one basis and then the strength in the presence of the fellowship will transcend time and people will be both anxious and willing in their desire to drink in the faith. Check out my blog at Rigby

    • Stephen Canfield September 25, 2013 Reply

      Somewhere in Africa there is a guy saying, “An hour long service? Why even do that? You need at least 2 hours to even get started!” I’m sure there is a sum zero point, but half an hour could mean a message only service, which quite honestly doesn’t sound that bad…and I am a worship leader!

      • Todd Rhoades September 25, 2013 Reply

        Exactly, Stephen. It is all cultural. We are used to the pastor speaking for 40 minutes. (Most sermons could be 10 minutes and still be on point).

        The LAST thing unchurched people will want to do is listen to a man talk for 40 minutes. That’s all I’m saying.


        • Leonard Lee September 25, 2013 Reply

          Todd, you don’t preach that often do you. Easy to assess how a message could be on point for 10 minutes, much harder to do and from the perspective of a guy who has been preaching 30+ years, not even realistic.

          • Todd Rhoades September 26, 2013

            According to what you mean by ‘preach’. If you mean exegete a complete portion of scripture, then yes… ten minutes is not long enough. If you mean to communicate some life-changing reality or make one point that can/will be lifechanging, then I’ve seen it done quite often (just watch the NINES… great communicators can do it in 5!)

            Most 40 minute messages have so much repeating and fluff (you have to fill 40 minutes, you know), that I think they could most all be reasonably cut down by half).

            That said… you called it… I’m not a preacher. Just a listener.

            I just wish more pastors preached until their content was really delivered rather than when their time was over.



    • equippingsaints September 26, 2013 Reply

      We have made it too easy for people Chuck I agree. I get the whole appeal to unbelievers, but yes that is why we are to go to the marketplace and reach them. When it comes to making a commitment to the church we must remember that Christ laid down His life for the church and it does seem a little off to say we are pointing people to follow Him and asking as little as possible. The challenge should be to those who say they belong to a body or are members, to see it as a covenant relationship, i.e. the bride of Christ. The relationship is to be as a marriage, and no husband or wife takes vows that say, I will show up sometimes and when I do, please do not take long in giving something to me that I need. Instead, we take the good with the bad, and we look to serve not to be served. So to directly answer would I do this, I have to agree with Chuck we are only weakening our movement by not requiring or expecting more from those who say they belong. Todd, I have no problem with an abbreviated sermon, especially when someone is just rambling. Not sure everything can be super condensed, but that is where the church has the opportunity to offer other opportunities for depth.

  • davepatchin September 25, 2013 Reply

    It could work.

    it DID work in getting attention (via media) which probably helps them reach new audiences and/or attract Christ followers who want to reach their neighbors.

    Bravo for TRYING, regardless of the outcome. So few actually aim at those far from God.

  • Dan September 25, 2013 Reply

    I completely loathe this kind of advertising. In effect, it tears down others to build yourself up and set yourself apart. It’s like KMart saying that WalMart sells crap. It’s like the immature jock in HS trash-talking all the rest of the girls in the school to impress his girlfriend. It’s being critical of the very Bride he has been called to build. It smacks of desperation, pettiness and shallow/juvenile thinking. I guess they have so little to say and do, it can be done at warp speed. God forbid there be any challenge to think outside of one’s self for even one hour. Welcome to McChurch — twice as fast, made your way and nutritionally vacuous.

    • DanO September 25, 2013 Reply

      Yes. I understand the desire to reach the unchurched and those who have had bad experiences. However, I have a very difficult time seeing Paul or any of the Apostles talking about the Corinthian church like this. And this was a church that had terrible problems! This whole approach is just sad.

      I think any slogan that needs footnotes is a failure of imagination. I am sure they can do better. Our culture is awash with cynicism, satire and parody as forms of entertainment. Once the initial curiosity aspect wears off what are people left with? I guess it’s better than renaming the congregation the “Fool for Christ of Eugene.”

      I hope some will be spurred enough to actually come to the church and see what’s going on than just dismissing it as irrelevant. We’ll have to wait and see what it accomplishes.

  • Dan McGhee September 25, 2013 Reply

    Dan pretty much summed up my thoughts, EXACTLY.

  • Gregory Pratt September 25, 2013 Reply

    Right on, Dan!

  • Jeff Borden September 25, 2013 Reply

    Nope. Does nothing for me. Seems like slick and desperate marketing…again. It’s tiresome and becoming (for me) loathsome.

  • Chad W September 25, 2013 Reply

    God’s Church is not perfect because it’s filled with imperfect people. Some become hypercritical of the Church because of its imperfections (selfishness, attitudes, hypocritical, graceless). I grew up in the Church and have been in ministry since1990 and know full well the frustrations of working with people and their frustrations of working with me. But I struggle to understand the extreme critical attitudes of some toward the Church. The Church is the bride of Christ. Let me tell you, if you spoke of my wife (with her imperfections) in an ill manner, you would know my displeasure (maybe even painfully). This makes me consider how God feels when we are so critical of His bride. God wouldn’t show His displeasure with a right cross, but can He be pleased with such over-the-top negativity and that publically about His bride? There is a way to address the negative about the Church without being disrespectful to that which God has ordained. The goal would be to strengthen and make the Church better as we grow in the Word and the Holy Spirit, right?

  • Darin Simms September 25, 2013 Reply

    Did this more than 10 years ago in a small Ohio town. It was part of a Top 10 list “Reasons to Attend” (Free Parking, Coffee!, etc) The top reason was “All churches suck, ours just sucks a little less.” Unchurched people loved it. Churched people hated it. We were able to reach many people other churches couldn’t (or didn’t want to). It was messy. In the end, we apologized to those who were offended. But we made a difference for the kingdom.

    • Credo September 25, 2013 Reply

      So as long as “we made a difference for the kingdom” — a rather subjective phrase — all is well? Classic example of a pragmatic philosophy that promotes that the end justifies the means. No thanks. Consider me the rare bird who believes it is the Holy Spirit that draws people to Himself and not snarky promotions. But then again, about 90% of the whole church growth movement is built on pragmatism.

      • Darin September 25, 2013 Reply

        No, you are too quick to jump to conclusions. It was messy. We apologized. From the chaos we created, God still worked. Didn’t say it was right. It was an example of what the story is about.

  • Jeremy September 26, 2013 Reply

    I attend OneLove and the biggest thing I can say is don’t trust all that you read in the media. OneLove’s services run well over 30 minutes, the message itself however is somewhere between 30-50 mins. The news article also mistakes “Church Sucks” as a “slogan” when in reality it is just our current series. The amount of discussion this has led to is proof enough that the campaign is working. Our services have been standing room only for the last three weeks.

    • Dan McGhee September 26, 2013 Reply

      See, it worked! Standing room only! Pragmatic, slick, marketing methodology “works”… Imagine that? Like this hasn’t already been proved hundreds of times… Bill Hybels figured this out while these guys were still in diapers.

      • kevin denlinger September 27, 2013 Reply

        hey dan… while i agree with you about the pragmatism, i wouldn’t want to throw this whole baby out with the bathwater… (perhaps solomon would have us cut it in half)…

        i think we do hafta be somewhat pragmatic in our approach to reaching the masses, but i think we also hafta draw a line somewhere at what we believe to be “appropriate”… saying that “church sucks” may be over that line – at least it is for me… i mean, what’s next — “elders’ wives mud-wrestling”???…

        i don’t think we can say that just because something draws a crowd that it is appropriate to do… just sayin’ is all…

        ed young had this to say on… in “the cussing pastor”…

  • Leonard September 26, 2013 Reply

    Todd, I tried to leave this up by our conversation. The Nines is totally different from P/T. Can a person make a point in 10 minutes? Absolutely! If the role of P/T in a church was singularly to make a point then again you would be right. But there are many roles in Preaching/Teaching. (P/T)

    1) P/T determines atmosphere in a church. (grace driven, truth, legalistic, entertaining,…)

    2) P/T is about relationships. Great preaching helps foster both vertical and horizontal relationships. P/T has an emotional, spiritual, relational and informational element.

    3) Great P/T gives people vision. It connects them to the vision of a church subtly by lining up with the vision constantly. It connects them to the vision of a church directly sometimes by haven the vision fleshed out in a text. It connects them to a vision for their lives, for what God can do.

    4) Great P/T points people to action by inviting them not convincing them People respond today most often not because some piece of information was relayed but because someone personally identified with them and invited them.

    5) P/T is as much or more about leading as it is about feeding.

    When I P/T I DO NOT P/T the Bible but rather it P/T people. People last forever and as such, God loves them so much he gave them his word to reveal himself. The bible is a gift of love to mankind and as such, is the most important thing a pastor can share with their people. I teach people and because I love them, I want to give them the best and the bible is the best.

    When I couldn’t pass algebra the reason had to do with I had 2 teachers that taught algebra. Linear and filled with rules taught like we were all made the same way, just give us the facts and we will figure it out. As a creative, my brain did not work that way and I failed 2 times. I passed when I had a teacher teach me and the subject was algebra.

    You are 100% right if preaching is about a singular point and everyone is the same. My experience in communication is that is not reality. However I do agree that myself and most preachers I know need vast improvements. Sorry so long.

  • J.S. September 26, 2013 Reply

    My initial reaction as a pastor when discussing the church is always this. We can all agree the church is the bride of Christ right?

    “Love your wives as Christ loved the church” no?

    So would this be the best way to present His bride to the world (believers or unbelievers).

    I love my wife, my wife has faults, she’s imperfect. But she’s mine. My job as her husband is to honor, love and protect her.
    I also present her in a way that is honoring to her, myself, and most importantly to God.

    30 minutes, 3 hours, we can agree there is no 1 size fits all when it comes to communicating.

    Even the poster boy of this site Driscoll preaches over an hour (and I’m glad he does!).

    But if someone presented my wife to a stranger by saying “Let me introduce you to my friend’s wife….she sucks”.

    Wouldn’t sit well with me. Can’t imagine this sits well with Christ.

    • Todd Rhoades September 26, 2013 Reply

      I’m sure Mark Driscoll would love that he’s now the designated poster boy for this site.



      • Leonard September 26, 2013 Reply

        He probably just checked another item of the bucket list. 🙂

  • Craig Secor September 26, 2013 Reply

    Let’s see—168 hrs. in a week and the person seeking possibly acceptance, love and maybe a sense of belonging gets 30 min. of encouragement, purpose, hope and maybe a coffee and danish. Now he/she is ready to face the next 167 1/2 hrs of a culture that is fast paced and wear you down in a heartbeat. Hope he/she had time for a handshake.

  • David Sheffield September 27, 2013 Reply

    I was with him until he said we don’t want to “waste your time” on Sunday morning. Church service is about worshipping God. Since when is that s “waste of time?”

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