Perhaps you are among the many who disagree with my disuse (following widespread misuse) of the word “Christian” to describe myself. Or among the many who may disagree with my use of the word “marketing” in the context of sharing the true Gospel of Jesus. Many people think of “marketing” as a kind of secular way of making money from goods and services. In such a context, marketing Jesus would mean selling Jesus whereas to me it means sharing Jesus. So if you will read on, just know that what I’m writing about today is sharing Him, not selling Him.
Within the broader field of business marketing there is a well-known principle called “differentiating your product / service.” Failure to differentiate yourself from the competition means, basically, going out of business. That said, I raise the awful question: is today’s Christian Church going out of business? What is your answer? Mine is a profound YES! It is in many respects going out of business, and rightly so, because it has failed to differentiate Jesus from all the world’s secular heroes. By secular heroes, I mean the likes of today’s leaders in political, military, entertainment, and other social affairs.
Here’s a case in point. How many of today’s church members have gone to see the movie, “American Sniper,” portraying the heroism of US Navy Seal, Chris Kyle? According to http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=americansniper.htm Americans have spent $338,215,533 already (through 3/11/15) to see this movie. Probably some church members somewhere in that mix, right? By comparison, how many church members went to see last year’s Jesus movie, “Son of God,” when it was out in theaters? It brought in $59,700,064 at the box office throughout all its theater runs last year.
But wait. It gets worse. If movie heroes point in any way to where America’s real business marketing is succeeding vs. failing, take a look at this number: $157,979,770. That’s the initial box office receipt (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=fiftyshadesofgrey.htm) for a movie about female bondage under a character named Christian Grey. Want to know where in America the market was booming for 50 Shades of Grey in its first week of release? The southern states. That’s right, the American Bible belt. I tried to warn you that it gets worse. Worse for Jesus, that is.
http://www.harrisinteractive.com/NewsRoom/HarrisPolls/tabid/447/ctl/ReadCustom%20Default/mid/1508/ArticleId/1518/Default.aspx is a site where you can aptly read where Jesus ranks among America’s heroes these days according to the Harris Polls. Christian churches beware. We have more than just a brand problem going on here. We have a full-blown marketing problem starting with the brand name of Christian.
So what can we do about it? I would say with or without regard to brand, we as Jesus followers had better set goal #1 as being to differentiate Jesus from all other heroes, secular or sacred. I don’t mean just our family and military heroes, who Americans tell Harris outrank Jesus considerably. I mean all heroes secular or sacred, including other religious leaders. And, as churches, let’s start with our own Bible. Let’s differentiate Jesus from the actual writers of the Bible. Let’s further differentiate him from such sacred heroes as Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, Peter, John, etc. What made Jesus different from any of them? If we cannot market Jesus in this way, then, frankly, we churches deserve to go out of business.