Things you do while planting a church: humor people. This morning I had a meeting with a marketing company. One of their people lives in the neighborhood, received one of our mailings, and assumed we had tens of thousands of dollars at our disposal to do mass marketing. I repeatedly told them we had no intention of doing additional marketing in the near future but they still wanted to meet me and fill me in on their approach. So the way I see it, any time I get to tell people in the area about what we're doing at Echo is a good thing so I went to their office today and listened to their presentation.

I'll admit, it was very sharp operation. The way they integrate postal mailings with web interaction was fascinating; I've never seen anyone doing what they are. Despite dealing with mostly commercial businesses, they're starting to blitz churches, trying to pick up their business. Quite a few churches in our brotherhood have enlisted this company to help them market their churches. Finally, they told me their price, which would've been competitive for similar services but, still, was way more than I could ever imagine us spending on such a thing. I gave them a polite, "thanks but no thanks" and went on my way.

I do my best to stay up on church trends. There's always something new on the horizon that everyone is doing. I'm only thirty, but I've seen a lot of it firsthand. I remember, when I was a child, our church had a bus ministry. We would wake up early every Sunday morning and ride with my father to the place in Price Hill where they kept the bus. We then drove throughout the neighborhood picking people up. It was a trend that First Baptist in Hammond, Indiana started and everyone picked up on it.

I remember when our churched purchased a slide projector, so we could project new song choruses on the wall. And then it was video projectors. I've heard of churches now upgrading to Hi-Def for best picture quality.

Sunday School was created in the early 19th century in Great Britain. It was designed for poor street children to keep them from committing crime. They would feed them a good breakfast and teach them about Jesus. Sunday School became hugely popular in America in the 20th century, but altered the premise a little bit: we kicked out the poor kids and kept the food for ourselves. Ironically, small groups [which now all churches swear by as if they were mandated by Jesus] were just a convenient outgrowth of Sunday School.

And now it seems that the trend is marketing. You could call us at Echo sell-outs, since we did the mailing, but our purpose was to inform people about our portable church; we needed a way to announce our presence in the neighborhood and we picked the cheapest, most effective means; it really didn't cost much more than a good Yellow Pages ad would've run us.

But the truth is, if your congregation has no better substance than your latest trend, then your church is in trouble no matter how well your attendance is. I dreamed for years about the kind of church I would plant. We'd be cool. We'd rock. I'd get an earring. Stuff like that. But after God blessed me with the opportunity to mature and get a better grasp of what the church needs to be, I realized that we didn't have to be trendy. We just needed to focus and the message and let God do the work. And that's what we're doing.

Almost a year in now, I've come to the realization that getting Echo established isn't going to happen overnight. It's going to take some time. And I'm totally fine with that. Maybe by the time we arrive [whatever that means] we'll be a trend. Wouldn't that be cool?