Redeemer NYC: Getting Press

Tim Keller's wife, Kathy, has an article in The Movement about "Missional Ministry in the Age of Media."  I think it's helpful.  I especially find this excerpt interesting...

Unwise use of publicity, interviews and relationship to the media.

As a result of a series of unpleasant experiences, Redeemer Presbyterian Church has forged the following media policy:

We do not provide interviews or participate in stories; we do not desire publicity that will raise our profile. This policy exists for these reasons:

1. Anything that raises Redeemer's profile pulls Christians out of their own churches to visit or join us. This is a bad neighbor policy; the City needs many different churches, not one big mega-church, something we are going to great pains to avoid becoming.

2. If Redeemer becomes a “Christian tourist destination," our limited seating will be filled with those who already believe in Jesus, leaving no room for genuine seekers. We are already turning people away at one service, and seating is tight at others. Therefore, we do not want any publicity that would fill our seats with curious believers.

3. Redeemer would prefer that seekers come as the result of relationship (i.e., they are accompanying a friend who is then available to discuss things with them following the service.) To come into a church like Redeemer is not an easy thing, and although publicity might result in a few non-believer walk-ins, we would prefer there to be none at all.

4. Redeemer’s message is nuanced and non-political. We want to present the gospel and have people make up their minds about whether Jesus is God or not, rather than convincing them to espouse a point of view about this or that hot-button issue. Since this is somewhat different than the approach of some other evangelical churches, we don’t want to say or do anything that would give the impression that we fit into the storyline that the media currently has about evangelicals. This would tend to obscure and falsify our real message.

The problem is that while publicity alerts people who are trying to find a church like yours to your existence, it also alerts those who find your presence alarming. This can have an immediate negative effect on your rental arrangements (if your landlord does not wish to be identified with a church with your doctrinal commitments, or if he or she merely wishes to avoid a potentially controversial situation.) It can also affect the lease agreements of other churches in your area, which will suffer along with you if permission to rent in schools, for instance, is revoked.

Publicity also allows people to find you who are discontented with their own churches and who hope to find a church they can influence so that it suits their needs. These folks are a thorn in the side of any church planter trying to keep a clear vision of the Gospel before the world. And some people, of course, are just perennial malcontents, unable to be satisfied with any church, hopping from congregation to congregation, leaving a wake of destruction behind them.