Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Passion for Publicity

The Message or the Messenger?

     One of the main ingredients to any successful endeavor is a well-thought out, practical designed marketing plan that requires strategic advertisement and publicizing of one’s product and or services. If folks don’t know what you are selling, then how can they know if they even want what you are offering? This is all well and good.
     However, when it comes to preaching and or teaching the public about the things of Christ (obviously we are promoting salvation and its redeeming value to those around us) there is a tendency to confuse the product from the vendor. In the religious marketplace, it appears that much adoration has resulted in the messenger becoming more important than the message. Unfortunately, many of the messengers themselves have come to believe they are just as important as the message due to the response from the audience. If neither the messengers nor their audience can distinguish the greater importance between them and Christ, then we truly have a problem. Yet, many can see that the way we market the message to the audience can create the very entities that become more idolized than the message itself. Are you getting the message, here?
     This outreach problem is an historical one, but getting worse daily. Times have changed from the days of walking up and down the streets of Rome and Bethlehem, preaching the Gospel at great expense. Nowadays, the marketplace includes giant stadiums and arenas, mega churches, radio and television broadcasts and now the new 800 pound gorilla, the Internet. To gain exposure in this international stage requires the development of unique and imaginative approaches that stand above the others to capture even a small portion of that highly competitive niche market. It forces (and, actually, due to lack of faith), the messengers begin to trust in themselves and their creative marketing strategies to draw attention to the proverbial message, which is Jesus Christ. Today’s church is inundated with an aura of competition that is driving a bigger wedge amongst its members than ever before. Its historical parochial nature (which is probably its biggest shortcoming) has the numerous and varying doctrines being pitted against each other, rather than in delivering the truest message of all: Jesus Christ, and Him crucified!
     Coming from a strong marketing and public relations background, I realize how powerful these tools can be; unique techniques to sway others to choose your message above others. The secular world has mastered this art of influence, and, unfortunately the church is not too far behind with its own techniques.
     Yet, I am fully aware that the power of the Holy Spirit is much, much stronger than Madison Avenue and the societal and psychological ploys it uses to motivate the masses. If church entities would seek the authorization for Holy Spirit power to effectuate their spiritual endeavors to obtain positive results, it could eliminate the majority of not only its financial concerns, but its need to feel their mission is more important than the message. This is also the only way we can really know if that messenger has been blessed by God and whether His message is being revealed to those who need it most. Sadly, way too many are responding to the wrong (but very effective marketing strategies) that the messengers (and their trinkets) are more important than the message. Once again, a great theologian, A.W. Tozer puts this problem in perspective:

For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness-God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ, (1 Thessalonians 2:5-6)

     If this is a fairly accurate view of things, what can we say then when Christian men vie with one another for place and position? What can we answer when we see them hungrily seeking for praise and honor?
     How can we excuse that passion for publicity which is so glaringly evident among Christian leaders? What about political ambition in Church circles? What about the fevered palm that is stretched out for more and bigger "love offerings"?
     What about the shameless egotism among Christians? How can we explain the gross man-worship that habitually blows up one and another popular leader to the size of a colossus? What about the obsequious hand kissing of moneyed men by those purporting to be sound preachers of the gospel?
     There is only one answer to these questions; it is simply that in these manifestations we see the world and nothing but the world. No passionate profession of love for 'souls' can change evil into good. These are the very sins that crucified Jesus. The Pursuit of Man, pp126, by A.W. Tozer.

For more information about the author and his two books The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, please click on Joe Ortiz.

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