I recently had the misfortune of switching to Directv. They enticed me with alluring bargain prices for digital TV, phone & internet. I’d get a DVR! When they promised free installation, I couldn’t resist. Sadly, the “bait” rate had a huge hook in it.
After getting everything installed I got bills from AT&T (their phone/internet partner) and Directv totaling over $300 for not-so-free installation and the first month. After hours on the phone with both AT&T and DirectTV “customer support” supervisors, I asked Stephanie if it was “metaphysically possible” to get the promised service at the advertised price. When she said, “no, it is not” I knew I had been dishonestly reeled into that 2 year contract.
Here are some of their deceptive tactics:
- Bait and switch – they promised “HD channels included.” Yet, the ad price only gets you a non-HD receiver. So they send the signal in HD, but you can’t SEE HD for that price.
- Misleading promises – They promised “free installation in up to 4 rooms” but if you get installation in more than one room, the monthly charge increases greatly.
- Dishonest – the ad says “unlimited local and nationwide calling,” but AT&T will only give you a limited number of minutes for the price.
As I fumed, I wondered why companies would do this. Misleading customers in the short run cannot produce long run returns, can it? Then it hit me.
Non-believers probably feel this way about the church.
Churches sometimes bait and switch. They advertise fun events and then switch into spiritual inquisition. If it’s an evangelistic event, they should promote it appropriately.
Some churches have misleading promises. If the website says it’s a free concert you shouldn’t guilt people to make a “love offering” for the artist. That’s just religious double-talk.
Worse, sometimes churches are dishonest in how they describe themselves. Don’t call your music great if it isn’t. Stop calling your preaching “practical” if it is not. And if no guest has ever described the church as “friendly,” don’t say you are. Because you WANT to be friendly does not mean you are friendly.
If you do this, stop it. It’s not helpful. It leaves your guests angry, annoyed, and possibly farther away from Jesus.
Remember that just like I told you about my horrible experience with Directv, they’ll tell your community about how they were misled at your church. That’s not good for you or the gospel.
What are some other ways churches and non-profits are misleading in what they promise?