Recently I’ve been reading about modern Christian marketing techniques. I’ve been told they suck and aren’t good enough. A bad imitation at best, not enough effort at worst. Apparently people think the church’s communication efforts are a joke.
It made me realize how much Jesus-loving faith communities (and their critics) have missed the point. Have we invested too much worth in reaching the world with the world…? It got me wondering, were we ever supposed to ‘market’ God like the world markets gods?
It’s been said that we don’t know how to share the message of Jesus, that we don’t know how to tell the story. The truth is we know exactly how to tell the story. With our lives. It’s that simple, and yet that complicated.
I’m not sure Saatchi and Saatchi could share the message better than a life transformed. Often, it is those who are most affected by the person of Jesus that tell the story most effectively. The recovering alcoholic, the former refugee, the restored family, the homed. They are the unstoppable, relentless, radicalized advocates of Jesus. Rarely are their words polished and practiced, but their testimonies disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.
In the light of that, I struggle to accept that lost, hopeless, searching people are merely a ‘communication challenge’… they are timebombs of God’s mercy and grace.
There must be more to communicating the message of Jesus’ love than just how we externally present our message in media.
If I really want to ‘present’ the love of Jesus, why do I walk past the homeless in my street - why aren’t I sleeping on my sofa whilst they rest in my bed?
If I really want to ‘market’ the love of Jesus, why don’t I support the frustrated mother in KFC with a word of encouragement and speak assurance that her 2 year old ADHD son is loved by the Prince of Peace and it needn’t always be this way?
We struggle to live Jesus day to day because we don’t fully believe it’s for everybody. Either that or we don’t actually believe the message is worth our whole lives. It gets complicated when it’s for everybody, it gets complicated when it demands our all. We’d rather someone else share with the poor, the meth addict, the prostitute and the unwashed that Jesus longs to hold them. Especially when sharing Jesus’ love can only mean showing Jesus’ love.
I know it’s not because I haven’t got the ‘marketing assets’ (I give great hugs) - maybe it’s just because I haven’t got the conviction…
Do we really believe that ‘marketing’ can make disciples…. or do we just want to DO something…. rather than LIVE something.
Let’s not forget where communication starts - simple truth words and demonstrative clear action. Do we really need ‘better presentation’ to cradle our insecure need to be liked and relevant? The message is enough - it’s the believers (spirit carriers, love givers, pain embracers, friend makers, train silence breakers) that are the commissioned - me and you. The burden of relevance shouldn’t lie with the products of marketers, printers and advertisers. We shouldn’t need anything other than our lives and words to be ambassadors of hope.
you think Jesus is more real to people because we chose the right vogue
colours for our church buildings… or the hip font for our flyers? I
When we personally embrace a broken dry vessel and speak life, that person doesn’t really care about ‘the sell’ - because they are finding something - no, someone. Jesus, someone who doesn’t give ahoot about image. A donkey rider. A man that’s ‘not much to look at’. A hero.
Critiquing our ‘going out in all the world’ in fickle measures of fashion, performance and return is not healthy. Living in the shadow of societies ‘standard’ can steal our confidence in the encounters God has ordained. Before everything else we need to put trust in His image and His communication miracle.
I’d rather a church building burn down than be branded with anything other than the compassionate love of Christ. If it takes that to force us to explore what and whom we’re committed to – so be it.
When everyone in this world is shouting a message - how can we be heard if we raise our voices to the same pitch and volume? Perhaps the difference should be our salt and light - doing, not just designing, righting wrongs not just writing rights. Showing love not just sharing an idea about love.
Let’s be recognizable by our fruit only – that’s how they will know us. What would the real Jesus brand look like to our communities? What impact would it have?
To really live branded with Jesus we HAVE to live as though we are utterly devoted, not just really committed. We HAVE to be totally consumed by the message - not just merely consumers of the message.
I’m nowhere near living in that place, but I’m in pursuit of it.