This just seems wrong to me, but some churches (I hesitate to say ‘US churches’ as this is may be spread) are entering marketing deals with secular companies to allow them to market their products to the congregation in return for money.
The article suggests that the reason that churches even consent to this is the competitive desire between churches to grow. James Twitchel says:
Growth is key to megachurch success because large, enthusiastic congregations are what megachurches “sell” to potential members
This makes these churches particluarly vulnerable to the temptation of corporate tie-ins.
But the most important point to note for all marketeers who are enthusiastically readying their plans was said by Greg Stielstra:
A product must tap into the church experience in order for the marketing effort to succeed. People who gather in church on Sunday are practicing a common faith, but that doesn’t make them more susceptible to margarine or minivans. The Republican Party was successful because it connected with the fundamentals of Christian faith. But it won’t work if you sell a product lacking relevance.
If our pastor started recommending products and was doing this for financial incentive, I am sure he would lose the respect of the congregation.