All right, the practical ramifications of this article aren’t huge. Christianity Today’s Our of Ur blog examines the theological basis for felt-needs marketing. It’s a well-thought out post that looks at marketing from a perspective most of us overlook, and at Church Marketing Sucks, we aren’t afraid to ask if marketing is in the Bible.
Here’s the bare bones of it all, and make sure to head over for a more eloquent version:
Jesus addressed felt-needs through miracles. If someone was blind, he spat on them. If someone was dead, he prayed for them. They felt a need, and he addressed it. But why?
Traditional wisdom says Jesus performed miracles in order to validate his message. If he performed a miracle, people would believe what he was saying.
But perhaps a more proper interpretation of his miracles is that he performed them primarily to reveal the kingdom of God and restore people to a relationship with God, not only to validate his message.
Within the context of the post, provided services are the contemporary counterpart of miracles. The author poses this challenge:
[If] Jesus didn’t address felt-needs to win a hearing or confirm his message, then how and why we address felt-needs in our present ministries needs to be reconsidered. For example, if Jesus’ healed blind Bartimaeus and the bleeding woman not to win their approval or validate his teaching, but rather to restore them to full communion with God and his people (something their handicaps prevented), then our good works need to be more than smart PR or marketing. They too must have some intrinsic gospel validity–a worthiness beyond validating our verbal proclamation.
So is your free church breakfast a bribe to get people to listen to you, or is it a way to show people the love of Christ and the gospel–no strings attached? Either way might be right or wrong, but let’s take a ten minute timeout to examine the theology of our marketing.