Thursday, January 01, 2009

Marketing is (not) Evangelism

My sister showed me the latest Christianity Today cover today: "Marketing Jesus: How to evangelize without turning God into a brand."

How timely! Thanks to Laura and Ben for offering their good insights on the last post.

The actual title of the article betrays a bit more of author's opinion: "Jesus is Not a Brand: Why it is dangerous to make evangelism another form of marketing." I'll link to the article when it's up on the web, but for now I'll whet your appetite with a few quotes from the article.

"By marketing, I refer to all the activities that help organizations identify and shape the wants of target consumers and then try to satisfy those consumers better than competitors do."

The pro-church marketing thinking goes like this:

"Even if you do not intend to market your church, that's how consumers are going to perceive your outreach. They will take it in through market-conditioned filters."

"So, unless we completely withdraw from any kind of evangelism, marketing is inevitable."


" is not a values-neutral language."

"...evangelism and sales are not the same. And we market the church at our peril if we are blind to the critical and categorical difference between Truth and a truth you can sell."

"Thus our dilemma: The product we are selling isn't like every other product--it isn't even a product at all. But if the gospel is not a product, how can we market it? And if we can't avoid marketing it, how can we keep from turning it into the product it isn't?"

If you're looking for some resolution on these matters, go buy the mag or wait for the article to come online. (I want to honor CT by not giving away here all the insights they offer in the article.) The article is written by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, who wrote Brand Jesus: Christianity in a Consumerist Age. Thus, he's certainly given the topic a lot more thought, so if you're really interested in Christianity, church, branding, and marketing, I'm sure you'd find more value in reading his thoughts there than mine here.

1.2.09 Update: Kim kindly pointed us to the article, up this morning.


Kim said...

Thanks for the CT plug :) We're putting the article up online today here:

Oh my gosh, I'm on the marketing team for CT. Does that mean I'm marketing Jesus?!

Adam said...

Beautiful! Thanks Kim.