I opened my e mail inbox a while back and found two interesting e mails waiting for me to open. The first had a catchy heading that said, “Christian marketing that get results,” I guess as opposed to Christian marketing that does not. Well, I immediately deleted it but then went back and got it out of my trash to see what Christian marketing that works looks like...wouldn’t you? So I read how I could advertise our church on this Christian e mail newsletter thing that gets sent out to keep other like minded evangelicals informed on what is happening in the Christian world. I have tried to unsubscribe from this newsletter myself without much success, so they are pretty tenacious if nothing else. But marketing that gets results kind of leaves me a bit cold...market our faith...market our worship of God...market our values...our very relationship with God. Doesn’t that seem weird? So I did re-delete it...then went to the next e mail, “Outreach tips, ideas, and SPECIAL OFFERS.” I have been trained to never, ever miss out on a special offer so I had to look.
I was so relieved to find out it was not too late to down load the special kit for, “Back to Church Sunday.” I was sure I was too late...lots of great things to welcome those who maybe took the summer off...or the last decade off from church, back to the building! All for a small fee of course...well it got much larger if you got the door hangers, the posters, the 30 days of preparation, and the best thing of all the Pastor rap video! I am sure that is quite inspiring...but then I began to feel a bit sad...how did Jesus do all He did with out a marketing plan...and banners...and door hangers. How did He get along without “ Marketing that gets results?” How? I think of a couple of stories in the NT that just scream to me that the Holy Trinity really does not understand marketing at all...not even close. A rich young guy comes to Jesus and asks a simple questions...how do I get in? Jesus plays along and gives him a few rules he should follow...and the guy smiles wide and says, “ Been there and done that!” I am pretty sure Jesus disciples are watching and beginning to think this whole thing is about to get much better...once Jesus welcomes this guy in, no more sleeping outside for us, no more praying for the food to get bigger, this guy will pick up the tab and it will be good. The Jesus says, well fine and dandy, now go and sell everything, give it to the poor, and then come and follow me. Can’t you hear Peter screaming in the background? What??? And the guy went away sad...for he had lots of stuff.
Any marketing person with any sense would have pulled Jesus aside and told him getting this guy on His team would make life so much better. He was well known, maybe even a celebrity, and would bring other people with him to Jesus team. They could live better...eat better...everything would be better. But Jesus does not go for bigger and better...He goes for the guy...his heart. The young guy went away sad because the call was more than he could handle. Mark wrote, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” It was not because Jesus was angry or having a bad day, he loved this young guy...enough to tell him what he really needed...to put his trust in God...not his stuff. Hard. We spend so much energy trying to make it easier for people...more safe...not confrontational...but sensitive to the persons needs. Are we really nicer than Jesus? It seems odd to me people of all kinds came to Jesus and we don’t really see that same thing happening with the Church and yet we continue marketing the church. Jesus loved him enough to say to him, “Your religious acts are not enough...come and follow me.”
Enough of Jesus lack of marketing skills, let’s look at this new entity called “The Way‘ or “The Church” that was forming in Acts. Acts 5 has to be a mistake...doesn’t it? A couple sells some property and is going to give some of the the money to the church because that is what was going on. The husband walks in, plops down the cash, I guess pretending that this was all the money and wasn’t it grand this good thing he was doing. Peter looks at him and asks, “Why would you lie to the Holy Spirit?” and BOOM! The guy drops dead...not good for church growth if you ask me. Not a good marketing tool at all! The news papers will be all over this...and it cannot be good. The story goes on...his wife walks in and agrees with the charade...Peter says the same thing to her and, well you know, down she goes. What in the world is God thinking here? This Church thing can be dangerous to your health I guess...well playing church can be for sure.
Marketing plans...church promotions...really. Doesn’t it make your heart sad?
A young woman at our church told her story on Easter Sunday...she told of her struggle in an area of her life. She told of choosing, for a while, to satisfy that area of her life, all the while professing her love for Jesus. Then a friend challenged her with a simple question...”Do you love that part of your life more than you love Jesus?” Her actions said she did...until confronted with the question...and her love for Jesus won out. She left that behind and moved forward with Jesus...I am sure there are still struggles but as long as she puts her love for Jesus first, she will win. Church is where Jesus and His people are...where we hang out together...and where we are He is...and people are changed. I am not looking for marketing that gets results...because I know a God who gets results. Way more fun...and much less stress.
I know I am not a cutting edge leader...looking for the newest and the best...I am a leader whose edges have been cut off...who believes Jesus when He says those who follow Him have to die to themselves...