Friday, January 02, 2009

Jesus Is Not A Brand
Why it is dangerous to make evangelism another form of marketing.
By Tyler Wigg-Stevenson (CT)

"...The difficulty with the pro-marketing arguments, however, is the failure to recognize that marketing is not a values-neutral language. 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. To market something is therefore to effectively make it into a branded product to be consumed...

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)....

The problem with implicitly salesy evangelism is bad theology, not bad technique, and it requires more than a simple change in method. If you feel like a used-car salesman talking about Jesus, the solution to the perceived lack of authenticity isn't a smoother pitch—it's a renewal of the church. The potency of personal evangelism is, as it has always been, the simple and earnest retelling of what God has done in the lives of his people. Of course, this requires a community to back up our claims...

In other words, people who respond to church marketing approach Jesus as another consumer option. This is first and foremost a problem because it is blasphemy: We are talking about the incarnate Logos, not a logo. Additionally (in case blasphemy isn't bad enough), this should concern us because of the problems it creates for discipleship. Consumerism isn't just a social phenomenon—it's a spirituality. And it comes with spiritual habits and disciplines that conflict with the particular practices of the Christian life.

There are many such conflicts, but let's look at four key ones.

1. "I am what I buy" vs. the lordship of Christ...

2. Discontent vs. the sufficiency of Christ...

3. Brand relativism vs. the supremacy of Christ...

4. Fragmentation vs. unity in Christ...


Click on the link above to see the whole complete article.

2 comments:

lamouriaam said...

I love this statement, "The potency of personal evangelism is, as it has always been, the simple and earnest retelling of what God has done in the lives of his people." If it means Scriptures Testimony over personal experiences.
I think one of the greatest grounds for trepidity today is on the ground of witnessed grace. By that I mean that we as Christians have fallen tragically short of what it is we are supposed to witness to with our mouths and lives. It seems their is a greater awareness of what others report as God's activity in peoples lives than they are with what Scripture says regarding repentance, righteousness, Liberty in Christ, etc, etc, etc.
There seems to be a growing thought that giving witness is simply telling people what God has done in your life. I heard a popular pastor say that recently. The problem with that is that our reflection on anything is probably inadequate and may be greatly misunderstood by us or the hearer. Experiences are good for some venues, but I don't think as evangelism. Personal experiences are not the crucial pieces of testimony to Kingdom building and transformation of lost souls. The critical piece is what Scripture testified to (i.e., Who Christ said He was as opposed to who I have experienced Him to Be in my own life). One of the problems we have today is that too many people are emotional tied to experiences and woefully ignorant to the testimony of Scripture.
So again, I love the statement, ""The potency of personal evangelism is, as it has always been, the simple and earnest retelling of what God has done in the lives of his people." I hope it leads to an awareness of our responsibility to share His story as a priority above ours.

timothyfarley said...

Thanks for sharing this Bill. It goes well with a recent discussion on my blog. I think I'll post a link over here so others can read it as well.