Marketting, Evangelism, Love and Money

I have long lamented such popular christian items such as the prayer of Jabez, the purpose driven life, the left behind series (i know its fiction, doesn't really fit, I just had to throw it in there), and so on. I haven't always done so here on my blog, but if you have known me for any amount of time, I am sure it has come up.

I wonder if anyone ever stops to notice that none of it seems to matter. I should clarify that. It does matter, in my opinion, but what I am talking about when I say it doesn't seem to matter is in regards to what these items themselves promise. How many churches are doing, or have done, or will do the 40 days of purpose? How much money have Christians spent on Prayer of Jabez books and accessories? Is there any noticeable difference? is there ever?

I see a lot of statistics; thats nothing new. It doesn't seem to matter where you are, or what shrink wrapped, out of the box, no assembly required, program you are using, there are always stats to role out and prove that it is a success. But if all these programs are really as successful as the stats seem to imply, or are made to imply, then why does nothing really changes?

Maybe I am being pessimistic, or over critical. But I really think we are missing the point more and more. I don't think we need a more vivid portrayal of Jesus life (I enjoyed Passion, but was it really the all powerful evangelical tool it was promoted as?). I don't wish I had a practical, easy, 3 step answer to what we do need. I am very sure that its not supposed to be like that. I do think we need to recenter on faith, hope, and love. Most especially love.

"Let all that you do be done in love" 1 cor. 16:14
"the only thing that counts is faith working through love." gal. 5:6
"Above all, clothe yourselves with love" col. 3:14
"Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins." 1 pet. 4:8
"God is love" 1 john 4:16

We've all heard the two most important commandments (Matthew 22:34-40). Isn't it time we took all the 'above all''s, 'most important''s, 'only thing''s, 'all that you do''s, seriously?


Anthony said...

was this inspired by my quaker post ?

(why did you find the passion moving, btw--also i dont think it worked as evangelical tool, b/c it could only really convert the converted, making a spec. social/political demographic feel more comfortable w. itself--as for me, i found it pornographic, anti semetic, explotive, and angering.)

i think that the passion put me past xianity, i think that when i saw it, it was one of the last straws, the last comprimises i was willing to make.

Stefanie said...

Hi Andrew. I agree with your comments -- there needs to be a recentering on love. And I refuse to read The Purpose Driven Life, etc. simply because of all the marketing. I do not like being aggressively marketed to and defined as a consumer. It's been ingrained in me as a Communications student (I heard from Tom that you too read Klein's 'No Logo') and I very much dislike the corporate nature of much Christian material today. Where does "relevance" draw the line?

When it gets to the point where they have to take one book and make several editions for kids, boys, girls, mothers, fathers, couples ... it's pretty obvious that they're segmenting the audience for marketing purposes. And I refuse to be a part of that.

I don't think The Passion was marketed in quite the same way. I think Gibson wanted to make it as a work of art and dedication to God, and then all the churches wanted to jump on the bandwagon and use it as a "tool" for evangelical purposes. And why should he object? It's a good thing. And I actually have come across several people who dedicated their lives to Christ as a result of that film.

I know God can use anything and any circumstance for His good purposes, and that is reassuring in the sense that perhaps some good has come out of much marketing. Still, that's no justification. I often wonder if these popular Christian culture items are those things that Jesus would "turn the table over" for in His zeal...

Andrew said...

I guess I am kind of in between you two on the passion. I think your reaction is a bit strong anthony, but you knew that already.

I am not sure what Gibson was trying to do with it, but if he was trying to make it art and glorifying to God, then I am not so sure that allowing the churches to run with it as a mass evangelism tool was a good thing. I do agree that it was largely only useful to convert the converted, but I know that is never entirely true. I have a hard time with emotionalism being mixed with conversion and evangelism... I remember one of Campolo's sermons that we should not rely on 'emotionalism' but we should not have less than that either.

PakG1 said...

Personally, I think it's more of an issue of society's want for instant or systematic gratification. 10-Step plans from AA, cup noodles, canned chili, and how to turn your life right-side up. I remember when I first met you and you talked about how most of your reading time was spent on books other than the Bible, though you clarified that you were deep into scripture as well. It made me a little weary at first as I originally got the impression that you liked reading these "quick-help" books all the time, rather than the hardcore theological and hermeneutics stuff. IMHO, with the "quick-help" stuff, the reason why the effects seem so intangible is because people want the instant quick fix, rather than the real goodness. TV dinners instead of real meat and vegetables. Gives you a bit of nutrition, but not as much as you need for the long run.

But as Paul noted, while babes, feed milk. Key question is whether people grow up and transfer to meat (real scripture).