This post (forgot to link earlier – oops!) explains really well why starting or running a church based on the "felt-needs" of a community is a self-defeating endeavor, and the difference between marketing a church and simply serving people as a natural extension of the demonstrating and proclaiming the gospel.
"The gospel calls us to surrender our desires, take up our cross, and
follow Christ. How can a church effectively invite people to ‘die to
self’ while constantly appealing to their self-interests?"
The author bases this on the practice of Jesus (a good place to start), quoting N.T. Wright in the process: "Jesus never performed mighty works simply to impress." Jesus didn’t perform healings to "get people to hear the message." Jesus’ healings were the same thing as the message, the healings accomplished the same thing as his preaching: restoring exiled sinners to God. He proclaimed and demonstrated the kingdom, in speech and action. Telling a parable about the kingdom or telling a lame man to get up and walk were an organic whole for Jesus. He didn’t heal to "market" his preaching. His healing proclaimed the kingdom, his preaching proclaimed the kingdom: two facets of a holistic message.
So Heartland is having something called Community Day on July 27th. We’re going to offer a free meal to the people of our neighborhood, an afternoon of fun, and free school supplies for families in need. But it’s not a clever way to "market" our church to the neighborhood, it’s a way of demonstrating the gospel. That subtle difference of motivation makes all the difference in the world.