A Reader’s Resolution

January 10, 2008 by

Happy New Year friends! I am writing to share my 2008 resolution…

I pray that 2008 brings with it the day that we no longer debate the need for church marketing and unanimously agree that Christ’s kingdom cannot afford for it to suck.

The urgency of our need to effectively spread the Good News was recently underscored for me when I came across a quote from Shelly Lazarus, Chairman and CEO of Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide, in the summer 2007 issue of Hermes, Columbia Business School’s alumni magazine:

“We are going to have to entice the consumer, seduce the consumer, charm him, invite her in a way that she cannot say ‘no’. That is the creative challenge … how do we make them come to us of their own free will? How do we surprise and delight, build connections and deep loyalty?”

Is it just me, or does this sound like the shrewdness of which Jesus spoke in Luke 16:8?

With consumer culture so clearly determined to capture the wallets and wills of men and women, there is no room for us to wonder whether or not disciplined and responsible marketing is mandatory in spreading the message of Jesus Christ. Consumer culture is aggressive and unapologetic, spending a seemingly unlimited supply of resources to makes its goods and services a necessary part of our daily rhythms and routines. We must take seriously “consumption interruption” as a new twist in ministry marketing and messaging.

In Monk Habits For Everyday People, author Dennis Okholm rightly observes that, “We hear what we are trained to hear. And if we have been trained well to be possessive consumers, then we may not be well trained to hear the needs of others or the voice of God.” If we take Shelly Lazarus’ challenge seriously and observe our country’s consumer credit crisis, then we can agree that we have been trained to be “possessive consumers.”

Let us then also agree that the purpose of church marketing is not to increase weekly offerings or add people to pews, but to attune people’s ears to the voice of God and retrain them to hear the needs of others. For if they cannot hear His still, small voice, then they will never respond to His call or commands.

Let us resolve to do everything that we can to increase the presence of Christ’s message in the public sphere in 2008.

Post By:

Brian Gaffney

Brian A. Gaffney is the expectant father of FourWord Thinking Marketing and Communications, Inc., a Christian communications consultancy that he was called to start after working in corporate consumer marketing for a decade. He and his wife, Kym, live in Brooklyn, N.Y., and attend Emmanuel Baptist Church, where he is an ordained deacon.
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6 Responses to “A Reader’s Resolution”

  • Lex
    January 10, 2008


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  • Roland Thomas Gilbert
    January 10, 2008

    I, too, join Lex’s *applause*

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  • CD
    January 10, 2008

    At in tune as I am to mktg of the “stuff” that I like …his comments really challenge me to wonder…am I as open to listening to God’s sales pitch?..hmmm

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  • unkle e
    January 10, 2008

    Sorry, but I must say I feel less than overwhelmed by these ideas.
    Yes, if we’re going to use advertising and publicity to present ourselves to the world, it needs to be good and not cringe-worthy. But I think we are using old, outdated, ineffective models here.
    “how do we make them come to us of their own free will?” is what is often called the “attractional” model of church outreach, where we hope to “entice” people into our space where we feel comfortable and they often don’t. Church planting becomes a matter of “if we build it they will come.”
    But experience indicates that the attractional model may work in some circumstances, e.g. where the church has something the world knows it wants, but overall it isn’t working in our western cultures, and a new model is required.
    A better approach is what is called “incarnational” in which we leave our safe havens and venture more into the world to serve and to love and thereby show God’s love for the world. (Of course its name comes from the fact that this is exactly what Jesus did when he left heaven for his time on earth.)
    So yes, “Let us resolve to do everything that we can to increase the presence of Christ’s message in the public sphere in 2008.”, but let us be committed to doing this through love and service much more than through other forms of marketing, so we definitely don’t “overpromise and underdeliver”.

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  • julieH
    January 10, 2008

    Um, I read the quote from the Business school magazine… that’s a man centered approach. If we perform, if we do well enough, then we’ll win souls! Our marketing just has to get to a big enough/good enough/not sucking enough level.
    People come to Christ because HE gets ahold of their hearts. HE works through the best marketing, and HE also works through the mediocre, and the stuff that may suck. He decides what to bless.
    We do our best out of obedience, because God calls us to.
    Something else to consider when figuring out how to share God’s message…Lifeway just released research that people are turned off by “the church”, but willing to have a conversation one on one with a friend who is a Christian. It’s the headline story right now. http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/

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  • brad
    January 15, 2008

    As culture-engagers, we’re smack-dab in the middle of the tension between our efforts and God’s intervention. Paradoxically, our most successful marketing efforts are the ones where we are the most transparent/invisible.

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