Thursday, August 18, 2011

Marketing the Gospel

I saw an interesting post from Denny Burk yesterday.  In it he comments on a piece by Meghan O’Gieblyn, in which she writes about how she was turned off to faith by her church's constant attempts to market itself as "cool."  As she put it,
The gospel became just another product someone was trying to sell me, and a paltry one at that because the church isn’t Viacom: it doesn’t have a Department of Brand Strategy and Planning.
Now I don't want to turn this into an argument for or against a certain style of worship (traditional or contemporary).  I have seen "traditional" churches that are both excellent and borderline heretical, just the same as I have seen with "contemporary" churches.

What I would like to highlight though is the danger inherent in relying ultimately on slick presentation as opposed to the simple proclamation of the gospel.  As Burk points out,
In any case, there is a lesson here for all of us. You cannot market the gospel like you market a Big Mac. I have seen lots of Big Macs in my lifetime, but I’ve never seen one that looks as good as the picture on the billboard. That’s because marketers are in the business of taking something ordinary and making it to look better than it really is.

This is the opposite of the ministry of the gospel. We are not in the business of making the gospel to look better than it is. It is already far more glorious and weighty and substantial than we could ever describe. The gospel doesn’t need to be photoshopped to make it effective, nor does it need an extreme makeover “Madison Avenue Edition.” It just needs to be preached plainly and faithfully. And where that simple proclamation occurs, people find it to be the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 4:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:5).
May we strive to do things excellently, but as we do, let us always remember that it is Spirit of God that  ultimately changes hearts.  And the primary way he does this is through the preaching of the gospel.

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