Evangelism as an Ad Model: Part Two

March 11, 2008 by

Last time, we discussed Advertising Age’s review of Brands of Faith, and we looked at the problems that arise when churches over market and under deliver.

But there’s a second problem lurking.

The label of “evangelical.” With individuals familiar to Christianity or the Bible, “evangelical” would seem to be “one who shares the gospel,” thus, we would all hope to be evangelical. With individuals looking to apply terms to a movement, “evangelical” is conflated with words like “Republican,” “fundamentalist,” “intolerant” or “conservative.”

If you want to look more into the enigma of the label “evangelical,” Wikipedia is a great place to start.

Truth be told, individuals who share the gospel might be conservative, or they might be liberal. They might be intolerant, or they might be tolerant. A label-obsessed society simply seeks to oversimplify movements, and too often, we accept such gross simplification.

All too often, there’s a break in communication as a church describes itself as “evangelical.” They want to communicate that they love everyone as Christ does and that they seek to share his truth humbly. But it comes across to some as fundamentalism, politicking or a thousand other issues.

There, we have a marketing problem for your church. So you make the call, slay the sacred cow and ditch the term “evangelical?” Or try to reconcile the term to a more moderate definition?

Because at the end of the day, the “evangelical movement” as an ad model might rise and fall. Evangelism, on the other hand, will not.

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.
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2 Responses to “Evangelism as an Ad Model: Part Two”

  • Chris
    March 12, 2008

    Thank you for clearing this up. It’s something I get frustrated about often, as the media usage of the term “evangelical” gets thrown around way too loosely.

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  • Ben Birdsong
    March 13, 2008

    We may need to redefine ourselves as the church. The media and some streams of evangelicals have taken the church, and the name evangelical along with it, and have done many things other than preaching the gospel. If people seeking after Jesus are turned off by a particular term due to some of the additional baggage that the term brings to their minds, we need to try to use other terms which do not carry baggage. The gospel should be at the core of every church and should be proclaimed until everyone hears about salvation which comes through the Person and work of Jesus Christ. If our terminology detracts from this mission by driving people away, we need to stick by the message of the gospel itself and not our terms who seek to describe who we are in fulfilling that mission.

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