Branding. Themes. Programs. Hashtags. These are some of the buzzwords that are currently circulating within the church. The thrust behind these words is that maybe if we come up with something catchy enough or fun enough, then people will come to our buildings.

Countless man-hours have been spent coming up with new internal programs that are aimed at pleasing the masses.

When is our smartphone App going to be ready? Is our livestream up and running? Are we putting our worship on Facebook live or YouTube? What’s sermon-sound bites can we #hashtag on social media? Has anyone ordered banners with our new theme on them?

These and many more questions like them are now a regular part of congregations all across America. I appreciate good marketing—after all, part of the reason we started Think magazine was because we were tired of good sound Bible material looking like it was produced in the 1950s.

But I fear many Christians have taken it too far. Today it’s ALL about the marketing, instead of the Gospel message. In fact, I am familiar with preachers who spend more time worrying about their marketing campaigns than they do studying God’s Word and preparing a sermon.

Do we really need all of that marketing to teach people the Truth?

Here’s what I intend to teach my children regarding simple Christianity.

All you need to worship the Creator each Sunday is a Bible, some unleavened bread, and fruit of the vine. Seriously, that is it! Song books and PowerPoint songs are nice, but many of the songs we sing we already know by heart. Pews are especially nice—especially the older I get and the more my body creaks when I get up from the floor—but they are not required. A pulpit is not required—and interestingly many congregations are moving away from them. Even a collection plate is not required. Members could simply hand their contribution to an elder or place it in an empty box.

When you get right down to it even buildings are not required. We could just meet in a park or someone’s home. I’ll say it again so that it really sinks in: All you need to worship the Creator each Sunday is a Bible, some unleavened bread, and fruit of the vine.

I fear that sometimes the Gospel message is lost in the clutter of all our marketing and programs. I don’t think Jesus ever intended for worship to be that chaotic. Adding all of this stuff often takes our attention away from Him and away from self-reflection.

As you mature and grow you may feel a yearning to make things bigger and better at your local congregation. Your desire is admirable and I’m glad you want to grow the Kingdom. But rest assured you are not the first person that looked for ways to increase numbers. Anytime you feel this urge I pray you will remember to keep religion simple.

Keep looking back at the pattern we were given in Scripture. Jesus commanded eleven men to go make disciples. He didn’t say anything about themes, slogans, or banners. It was all about disciple-making. Jesus did not want men to be converted because of glitz or glitter, but rather He wanted them converted to the Gospel!

The power is not in some hashtag or slogan. The power is in the saving blood of Jesus Christ! If the Apostles can convert the lost with the simple power of His Word, then so can we!