Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ECC-The Wave of the Future

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — As the Podesta family traveled from Kentucky to Maine on vacation last summer, they stopped every Sunday and Wednesday at their favorite national franchise: Evergreen Christian Center. "It was like we never left home," says Albert Podesta, 38. For 12 years Evergreen Christian Center was just another mega-church in Tennessee. Then the church radically changed its ministry approach. It began franchising itself. The franchise scheme was cooked up by several retired CEOs who landed on the church board at the same time. "They asked for our input, so we didn't hold back," says one. In 2001 Evergreen began gobbling up churches across the nation and turning them into Evergreen clones, with identical features, down to the doorknobs, ushers' jackets and sermons. Even the pulpits and Sunday school rooms are the same. "We're like Burger King or Subway — a solid, trustworthy business," says Evergreen brand manager Stefan Borcht. But ECC's growth strategy has caused alarm among many churches who fear being targeted in hostile take-over bids. After scouting a target church, ECC recruits a slate of church members to run for election to the church board. ECC woos church members with direct mailings, phone calls and pleasant emails. If ECC's slate is elected the church becomes an Evergreen franchise. Oftentimes the pastor is removed or demoted. "They swallowed us whole," says one former pastor whose church was Evergreen-ed last year. "We didn't even know what hit us." ECC targets medium-sized churches with a substantial asset base. Later it absorbs smaller churches in the area, a process they call "picking up the pennies." ECC franchise inspectors visit churches secretly to enforce specific guidelines. Evergreen members swear by the model. The Clarke family moved from Seattle to Milwaukee, and their children never missed Sunday school. "It eased the transition," says Dan Clarke. "The worship and preaching were exactly the same, down to the inflections. Even the pastor looked the same."



At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Fergeeson,

Even Reverend Bob is speechless over this one! How do you spell - PUCK!!!

Everyones Favorite Guy,

The Most Reverend Bob

At 8:05 AM, Blogger ChriS & Yvette Ferguson said...

It is spelled PUKE!

At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Bootleg,

The good Reverend appreciates your spellin correction! Sometimes the good Reverend should not blog before his first cup of mud!

Everyones Favorite Guy,

The Most Reverend Boob (oops! I mean Bob)

At 6:21 AM, Blogger ChriS & Yvette Ferguson said...

Confessions of a blogger...this is a parody on the church growth movement. It isn't real...yet. It spoke to me cause I think we want church growth so bad, we think a huge church brings God glory. When it really is simply a devouted heart that he is after.

My apologies if you forwarded this article to anyone thinking it was legitimate.


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