The Gospel, PR & Marketing
“… a good advertisement for the Christian faith.”
Titus 2:5 (JB Phillips)
Paul wrote this letter to young Titus after he left Crete, tasking him with the job of developing the Cretan churches including internal church discipline. Throughout the 2nd chapter, Paul encourages the Cretan Christians, in whatever state they find themselves, to set an example to others. Whilst not written to us, they are certainly words for us that we might heed today.
We tend not to think in terms of ‘advertising,’ ‘public relations’ (PR), and ‘marketing’ the gospel, as that sounds like ‘business’ which some automatically perceive as distasteful. Let’s use a bit of latitude—words are after all labels and principles operate regardless. Let me propose the idea that Jesus Christ used ‘PR and marketing’ when ‘going about his father’s business.’
Let’s transport our imagination back to first century AD. Picture life before Facebook, Twitter, the internet; before TVs, PCs, DTP, before radio and the car … how exactly would you get your message out to people? 1. either you go to them 2. or they come to you! Both have merit and Jesus Christ conceivably used both.
Could we refer to John the Baptist as Christ’s ‘PR officer?’ He went out to people announcing the first coming of Jesus Christ and baptising them (Luke 3:1-28). John said, “…I made it public that I was not the Messiah but simply the one sent ahead of him to get things ready.” (John 3:28 MSG)
Now let’s ask the question, what would make the masses come to you in 1st century AD?
Free booze! Christ’s first miracle was to turn water into wine at a wedding (John 2:1-11). Imagine how far the news of water into wine spread via both servants and guests.
Free healing! With no social system in place, if you could not work you did not eat. News of a healer would have spread rapidly by word of mouth. And unlike his contemporaries, Christ didn’t charge. I would debate that Jesus Christ used healing as a way to attract people to him, again using business terms, ‘to market his product or service,’ … which was ultimately the message of salvation, but the ‘carrot’ drawing them in was healing. See Matthew 8:16-17 (MSG), “…He relieved the inwardly tormented. He cured the bodily ill. He fulfilled Isaiah’s well-known sermon: He took our illnesses, He carried our diseases.” Read Mark 3:8 (MSG), “…swarms of people who had heard the reports and had come to see for themselves.”
In marketing terms we talk about a ‘loss leader’ where a service/product is offered at a non-profitable price to attract new customers, and when done properly, it works. Think of the principle ‘do good…hoping for nothing in return’ (Luke 6:35) as being along similar lines. Consider Christ’s sacrifice for humanity.
What about us? How might we be ‘marketing tools’ to be used in the work of Jesus Christ? The Bible is replete with guidance on this. The ‘market?’ Let’s read Matthew 9:37-38 (MSG) where Jesus said, “What a huge harvest! …. How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” The market is the whole world, and specifically for each individual, those we come into contact with, whoever they are.
The adage goes that it doesn’t matter how fantastic a product or service is if nobody has heard of it. The gospel is the best news ever to have happened on this earth. So let’s not just advertise but let’s be a good advertisement for Christ!
Lord God, we pray that through living a godly life, led by your spirit, the gospel will be attractive to those around us as you call people to be heirs with Christ.
Study by Irene Tibbenham
About the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a deaconess in the Norwich Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.
Worldwide Church of God Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
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