Brad Powell: Holy Spirit Hot Sauce, or Marketing Genie in a bottle?

Billed as the “Change Without Compromise 2007” conference, Brad Powell, Senior Pastor of Northridge Church, MI, is marketing his church transition workshops by comparing Church fervency to a bottle of hot sauce. Referencing Revelation 3:15-16, Powell contends the comparison “isn’t that far off,” and he claims that by purchasing his hot ideas your church can “move from static to dynamic, from cultural irrelevance to relevance, and from ineffective to effective.” Of course, “20% growth annually” might also be inside the bottle too. Workshops include Marketing and Communications (or, “What’s On Your Label?”); Volunteers (how to develop and maintain them); and Programming with a Purpose. “Your services can be ‘all killer, no filler’! Experience the process… from the pastor’s series thoughts… to the final walk-out music. Hands-on training that’ll rock your programming world” (workshop, deatails).

Upon successful completion of the Powell transition, it sounds like a pastor can process attendees through church services with all the efficiency and thrills of a major theme park ride. The cost for the conference and workshops is $179. While we didn’t see a workshop on holding them upside down long enough to shake the money out, it seems safe to deduce that the mechanism is built into the package. The–if you will excuse the phrase–selling points for this tabasco-talk are Powell’s own numbers: 12,700 people for weekend services, and 2,100 “decisions for Christ” last year alone. When considering these, and Powell’s merchandising campaign, two things come to mind. One is 2Peter 2:3: “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” The other thing is that Pilate got probably as many “decisions for Christ” in a single day; they decided to crucify him.

This entry was posted in Apostasy Beat, Apostates. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Brad Powell: Holy Spirit Hot Sauce, or Marketing Genie in a bottle?

  1. janna says:

    Oh, it is sad to see where our churches are going. Let’s keep pressing on with the truth.

  2. Ben says:

    Ouch. Harsh words here. Not familiar with their ministry but honestly find their story intriguing.

    Happy New Year!

  3. Jason says:

    Never thought about the “decisions for Christ” in the Pilate context that way before. You make a very interesting point.

  4. David Norris says:

    Excellent post. I do like your website. I will be bookmarking you as well.

  5. Seth McBee says:

    Interesting post…most of these pastors start with some “okay” ideas and probably at first start in a good spirit, but then they go way off in the implementation.

    reminds me of the emergent church. A lot of good questions but the course of action to answer those questions boggles my mind…

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  6. David says:


    I am guessing that pastors who go way off implementing ideas are new and/or young pastors who are hired by churches and then find themselves in one of two circumstances. 1) they may have an established congregation whose worship and services seem dated by today’s multimedia standards, or 2) they may have an older waning congregation that has raised their kids, is now mostly retired, and also seems dated. In the former case, the new pastor sees the world passing by outside the window with no one stopping in to join; and, viewed in its best light, he wants to evangelize those people. Nothing wrong with that. In the later case, the same urge may exist, with the added desire to fully utilize the almost empty “facility” to greater capaicity. I think they err when they equate growth with success (now emphasized in seminary), and fail to understand the duty they owe to Shepard those small congregations who have faithfully, over the years, built the church, and paid for the upkeep of building and grounds. To often the new guy sees the equity in these churches as the money he needs to turn the church into something “relevant” to the surrounding culture. The congregation is persuaded to take out a second mortgage, and then becomes slaves to the payment; having to make all sorts of compromises to keep paying customers to meet the debt. What should be emphasized in seminary is growth is not the measure of success, and that some congregations will naturally be waning; and fidelity to God’s word and the flock he gave you are the measure for success.

    Alas, this does bring in tuition money, sell books and CD’s, or help to get you on the cover of Christianity Today (or the Larry King show, where you can be made to waffle and squirm on national television). Anything thing produced can be made to grow by following the market strategy of tailoring your product to meet the needs and desires of the customers–as they see them–and marketing these to them. Unfortunately, this is what “relevance” has come to mean in the church growth industry,

    Thank you for you commentary,


  7. Jason Curtis says:

    Does anyone find it interesting that people like David comment on something they have not personally experienced. They scare me…because non believers see “Christians” behaving this way… and want nothing to do with Christianity. Did David experience the conference… or does he always make these uneducated comments? I just happened to Google something as came across this… odd commentary. Many Christians have somekind of corner on Christianity that is very different than what I’ve learned from the Bible. Fact – thousands have received Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior at NorthRidge. A once dying church is now reaching between 11,000 & 14,000 a weekend. God is changing lives in amazing ways… people are studying the Word of God… growing in relationship with Christ & other Believers – they are becoming “Christlike” and being light in darkness. We all need to be careful – NorthRidge isn’t for everyone – but God is working in this church… we ought to pray for more people to come to faith in Christ & grow on – and we all ought to grow up… and spend our time doing much more positive things! Jason!

  8. Jason,

    Thanks for taking time to comment. While time does not allow me to respond to all the points you raised, I can touch on these:

    – I have not personally experienced the crucifixion; are you suggesting I remain silent about it?

    – I DON’T want people to have something “to do with Christianity,” I want them to have something with Jesus: salvation.

    – I don’t think that it is “Christlike” to call into question my salvation because I paraphrase a promotional advertisement and you find it distasteful absent its glowing terms and slick marketing.

    – One of the “positive things” the Apostle Paul did was to warn Christians on a regular basis of the wolves that would not spare the flock, and men that would arise speaking perverse things:

    Act 20:29-31
    (29) For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
    (30) Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
    (31) Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

    – I am remiss, I have not prayed for your congregation or the pastor; until now.


  9. blake says:

    David, it’s pretty telling that you feel attacked by Jason’s comment…I mean, really…it seems you can readily dish out hate with a smile, but Jason’s constructive dialogue is “questioning your salvation??” Your response is imbecilic. You even have the audacity to use the scripture to inaccurately label Northridge and Brad Powell as speaking “perverse things!” The truth of the matter is… if you could just pull your head out of your traditional out house and search for the facts before making such brash, pompous remarks, you may find that the gospel is taught there. Jesus is taught there. Don’t get me wrong, the world would be a better place with the Joel Osteen’s silenced…but to categorize all growing churches as money mongers, truth benders, and emergents is very pharisee of you. Is it perverse to share the gospel? Because Brad Powell does every Sunday. Don’t believe me? take a look…if you can get passed the fact that the pastor isn’t in a suit and tie…neither was Jesus…tough love to my Christian brother

  10. Blake,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. I must conclude by your endorsement of Brad Powell, and then by the rest of your letter, that: you are mistaken about Brand Powell, or you are not attending as often as you should.

  11. blake says:

    Oh, so now I should go to Northridge? Your inconsistencies are fascinatingly easy to pick up on. Is it wrong to call someone imbecilic?…when he’s being an imbecile? Is it wrong to challenge someone who is judging and tainting a ministry that he knows nothing of? All from this perch of bias that is unfounded and agenda -filled. I personally don’t care what you conclude about me….
    People must have said something similar about Jesus after the flipping of tables at the Temple….. everything i said was true, no lies, no deception…Your article and comments are filled with deception and cowardice and until you meet Brad Powell, or actually check out the congregation and the services, until you show some intellectual and journalistic integrity by doing “ACTUAL” research, keep your opinions sounding like opinions….and not sounding like facts.
    Thank you for your comment, next time don’t take it so personally and explain yourself, rather then get defensive.

  12. Blake,

    While I do endeavor to stimulate, it is not my intention to frustrate. I do not seem to be able to clarify my remarks so that you may have a proper understanding of my thoughts, and I am sorry for that. Let us take our leave.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *