This is the time of the year you order something from the television for a gift for Christmas. (Well, I suppose you should have placed your order several weeks ago. They don’t know how many to make until people order them.) So you get the item, wait for the person to open it, and then realize that you didn’t get what you expected. Yes, it was just exactly like they said it would be, but it looks and feels so much cheaper. You spent a small fortune to get a piece of junk.
What happened? Marketing. Good marketing. The ability to sell a product regardless of the product’s quality or reliability. Selling is marketing. Production and quality control are something else.
Dilbert’s boss, in the famous comic strip, says, “We can’t compete on price. We also can’t compete on quality, features or service. That leaves fraud, which I’d like you to call marketing.” (Copyright Scott Adams, Inc.)
The church and marketing should be two very separate things, right? Right? Too late. The church discovered marketing long ago.
The question we have been looking at is why the formula works . . . sometimes. Why does it work for them and not for us? We do the same things in the same way, maybe with more faith and fervor, but it doesn’t work. Why did they say it worked?
Well, the old saying is, “Follow the money!” Sometimes a teacher is building a ministry or a church is building a congregation. It works for them because they need it to work for them so they can sell it to you. Just like the infomercial, by the time you figure out that the formula is bogus, it’s too late. They already have your money, your time, your attendance, your warm body.
Some of us have developed an aversion to any product or teaching that proclaims itself to be “God’s way.” Buy the book, or the tapes, or the CD’s. Go to the conference, the training, the seminar. Then you can learn the amazing formula God blesses. But even when they use God’s name (in vain, I might add) the formula is still a hoax or a poor quality gimmick. Sing to the trees to make them grow. Make your baby stay on the blanket. Dress a certain way. Talk a certain way. Go to a certain church. It’s “God’s way.”
In a world like ours, a certain amount of marketing seems to be necessary. There are so many voices clamoring for our attention. We all want to stand out somehow. But deception and trickery is not part of our message or our life.
You see, the message of the Christian faith has nothing to do with formulas. Our message is about a Person. The One who is true and pure and strong and good. The One who loves all people and calls to all to share in His love. We preach Christ. There is no formula. There is a Person.
If the Person is not enough for you, then the formula would certainly never work.