Church Planting Movement (CPM) is raging through India right now and it is specifically on a fast track in Punjab. What might be the reason for its success in India?

I have often wondered that it may have something to do with its model. An enthusiastic career-oriented guy is hooked. He is paid, a church started for him. He is given objectives in terms of how many numbers he has to get to his church and get the donations. Amongst those he converts he looks for others who are “promising” and that person gets to become the new pastor with his own little church.

And the “movement” grows. Here is this model explained in an illustration. (Source)

Does that sound familiar?

Amway. Multi-level marketing (MLM)!

Yes. And, I am not the only one who has hit upon this similarity. Bruce Gerencser lives in rural Northwest Ohio. He has pastored evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan for 25 years. Then he left Christianity. He hit upon the similarity as well.

Several days ago, I wrote a post titled J.A. Medders Asks: What Do You Think Jesus is Doing Right Now?. As I read the comments on this post, I had thoughts about how similar multi-level marketing (MLM) programs are to the various methods and programs Evangelicals use to evangelize people they deem unsaved/lost/unregenerate and headed for hell. (Source)

Another one “Captain Cassidy” writes in Patheos about the similarities as well.

Lately I’ve been reminded anew about just how big the overlap is between MLMs and fundagelical-style Christianity. Today I’ll show you some of those similarities–and we’ll see how easy it is for someone to escape one false and harmful group only to land smack-dab in the middle of one that’s just as bad or worse, all because of indoctrination points shared by both groups. (Source)

Cassidy shares an interesting Venn Diagram that shows the similarities and overlaps very nicely.

Bruce shares how the “methodology, techniques and promises” are very similar and then shares a list of characteristics that match between MLMs and Christianity.

  • Both attempt to befriend people in hopes of getting them to buy what they are selling.
  • Both attempt to manipulate emotions in hopes of making people sympathetic to their sales pitch.
  • Both attempt to bolster their sales spiel with stories of how wonderful their lives are since betting saved/joining MLM program.
  • Both attempt to appeal to prospective customers with promises of a better life.
  • Both promise lives of meaning, purpose, and helping others.
  • Both attempt to impress on people the importance of making an immediate decision.
  • Both leave literature if people want to think about it or are unwilling to make an immediate decision

It is curious that the Evangelical model is so similar to MLM because Amway, the big daddy of the MLM business is very much aligned to the evangelicals and their politics. It has funded the Republicans for very long and a long of their charity dollars go toward Christian evangelical organizations. Such Christians, of course, say that this is done by them for their own profitability and benefit from the political clout.

Richard DeVos and Jay Van Andel’s Amway Corporation has its tentacles firmly planted in late-twentieth and early twenty-first century Republican Party politics. Masquerading as a Christian-oriented family enterprise, Amway leaders have made billions by selling a phony version of the American Dream, while bilking thousands of ordinary American dreamers out of their hard-earned life savings. The wealth of the founders has supported the nearly 30+ year conservative makeover of American society through millions of dollars in donations to the creation and development of right-wing institutions and causes. (Source)

So there is a strong link between the organizations which fund and in turn are promoted by the large MLM organizations. It is not a coincidence.

Evangelism is a big business and like MLM business it needs funding to succeed. Sustenance is possible with self-sustaining business models. And, that is the first thing that the evangelicals and the Christian apologists look for.

Let us for example watch this extremely informative video by David Wood, who has worked very hard to battle the Islamists and their proxies. Here he shares his goals and also the strategies that he suggests other evangelicals/apologists should use.

We can learn a lot from his ideas and thinking about how does one organize the Indic volunteers.

Watch it to the end and then rewatch it. And then again.

Dharma without enterprise and self-sustaining artha will be ill-served.

In Indian civilizational ethos – dharma, artha, kaam, moksha – were considered to be 4 purusharthas. These were important action groups that had to be in balance in life for a happy existence.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, we forgot dharma and moksha when we were after artha and kaam; or artha and kaam when we were stepping out for dharma and moksha. It doesn’t work that way.

If dharma and moksha is a side “business” and you have no sadhana behind you, the chances are that you will end up trivializing every aspect of our traditions that have helped each generation to at least be peaceful and push themselves towards moksha.

For dharma to succeed, self-sustenance of our efforts have to be the key for the fight back.

(This write-up has been adapted from “Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone” – a daily newsletter from Drishtikone)

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