Nit-Picking Marketing Motivation

July 17, 2008 by

All right, the practical ramifications of this article aren’t huge. Christianity Today’s Our of Ur blog examines the theological basis for felt-needs marketing. It’s a well-thought out post that looks at marketing from a perspective most of us overlook, and at Church Marketing Sucks, we aren’t afraid to ask if marketing is in the Bible.

Here’s the bare bones of it all, and make sure to head over for a more eloquent version:

Jesus addressed felt-needs through miracles. If someone was blind, he spat on them. If someone was dead, he prayed for them. They felt a need, and he addressed it. But why?

Traditional wisdom says Jesus performed miracles in order to validate his message. If he performed a miracle, people would believe what he was saying.

But perhaps a more proper interpretation of his miracles is that he performed them primarily to reveal the kingdom of God and restore people to a relationship with God, not only to validate his message.

Within the context of the post, provided services are the contemporary counterpart of miracles. The author poses this challenge:

[If] Jesus didn’t address felt-needs to win a hearing or confirm his message, then how and why we address felt-needs in our present ministries needs to be reconsidered. For example, if Jesus’ healed blind Bartimaeus and the bleeding woman not to win their approval or validate his teaching, but rather to restore them to full communion with God and his people (something their handicaps prevented), then our good works need to be more than smart PR or marketing. They too must have some intrinsic gospel validity–a worthiness beyond validating our verbal proclamation.

So is your free church breakfast a bribe to get people to listen to you, or is it a way to show people the love of Christ and the gospel–no strings attached? Either way might be right or wrong, but let’s take a ten minute timeout to examine the theology of our marketing.

Post By:

Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

2 Responses to “Nit-Picking Marketing Motivation”

  • Jonathan Brink
    July 17, 2008

    Is it possible this is one of those both/and scenarios?

     | Permalink
  • Lex
    July 18, 2008

    It has to be both/and.
    On one hand, I have to disagree with the sentiment that Jesus did not use miracles to validate his message. John 10:25, 10:38, and 14:11 are just a few examples of Jesus saying, “If you don’t believe me, check the miracles.”
    It’s miracles that still validate the Word of God today. Mark ends his gospel with a comment about the disciples sharing the gospel and the Lord “confirming the word with the accompanying signs.” If you want to interpret “miracles” as “good works,” that’s fine.
    On the other hand, of course our good works need to be motivated out of love. People are not stupid. They might come once for the free breakfast, but once they realize it was a bait-and-switch, they won’t be back. Not to mention we’re to love our neighbors, right? Our good works are the practical application of that.

     | Permalink