Do you ever feel like you have to “sell” Jesus? Or church? Or youth group?
You want to have a spirit of excellence in all you do, of course (cf. Col 3:23). If you want to preach or write or publish or make PowerPoints or put on a conference or make music or do anything for the Lord, you want to do the very best that you can.
However, we live in a capitalistic and consumeristic culture. That’s the air we breathe. And sometimes—maybe even often—that striving for excellence can unconsciously morph into the creation and marketing of a product.
Instead of preaching Christ, we try to market Christ as we would any other thing.
John Newton warns about this:
We sometimes talk about the church as if it were the latest technological gadget. We point out all the benefits that come with joining our congregation—the children’s ministry, the outreach we do in the community, the sense of peace and connection we feel—and before you know it we find ourselves describing a product and not a person. Offering great spiritual products is not our mission. People are not looking for a product. They are looking for a person—and that person is God (Newton, Reckless Love, p. 55).
If your ministry mindset has slipped into marketing “the latest technological gadget” mode, and you happen to be in a small church or ministry without the latest bells and whistles, my guess is you’ll be very frustrated. You’ll never have enough money to afford big gadgets as the megachurches can. You’ll always be coveting the better video, better audio, bigger screen, nicer building, more up-to-date decorating and furniture, and pastors and elders and deacons with fancier degrees and curriculum “to reach people.”
But that’s a mistake.
As Newton says, “Offering great spiritual products is not our mission.”
Your little church shouldn’t put its confidence in sales schemes, marketing techniques, or in treating Jesus like the latest technological gadget that you need to convince people they should buy.
Instead, it should put its confidence in Jesus—and in the means that He appointed to save people, esp., preaching:
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe (1 Cor 1:21).
The world might laugh at Christian preaching, thinking it is hopelessly out of style and ineffective. But Paul told Timothy to preach “in season, and out of season” (2 Tim 4:2) because God’s means of reaching the lost through preaching is effective for all seasons. So, don’t sell Jesus; preach Him.