The danger of “marketing” the Lord

JP: What do John 3:16 T-shirts, “The Gospel According to the Beatles”, “30-day sex challenges”, and “Is church Whack?” with an IPOD giveaway have in common? Some churches will do seemingly anything to draw a crowd! It’s one thing to have a crowd and it is another thing to build a church! There is a danger of using “marketing” to make the Gospel relevant. We need to use Christ-honoring methods when we herald His pure Gospel!

Jesus Is Not a Brand


For months after I first moved to Nashville, a billboard by the westbound I-40 advertised an alcohol addiction recovery program. But what caught my eye was the billboard’s photograph: the coldest, frothiest, most delicious-looking pint of beer that has ever been poured.

Marketing has problems if it makes the consumer pant for the dead opposite of what you are trying to sell.

Marketing unavoidably changes the message—as all media do. Why? Because marketing is the particular vernacular of a consumerist society in which everything has a price tag.

The de-churched nature of our theology makes evangelism hard to do without seeming salesy, because churchless evangelism unavoidably promotes a consumerist soteriology. When it’s just you and Jesus, you (the consumer) “invite him” (the product) “into your heart” (brand adoption) and “get saved” (consumer gratification). Certainly God has worked and continues to work through these formulae. His doing so testifies to his grace, however, not to the fidelity of such evangelistic formulations, which, in this culture, inadvertently make Jesus out to be a cosmic version of the consumer brands promoted in the thousands of advertisements each of us sees daily.

So, given this cultural setting, any salvation that needs a sophisticated sales pitch is a salvation that won’t really do anything. It will make you holy the same way a new pair of Nikes makes you athletic—which is to say, not at all. It only changes your religious brand. Yet this is the only kind of evangelism possible when we separate salvation from life in the redeemed community, because it’s in the redeemed community that God has ordained the enduring demonstration of his power, against which nothing can prevail (Matt. 16:18).

Unlike brand identification, the gospel of Jesus is the power of God at work for a real salvation.

Images from A Little Leaven – A Museum of Idolatry


Screaming won’t help!

JP: You may feel this stressed, but screaming won’t help. What will:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:6-8 )

Comment: Image from The Daily Mail