In a world full of Snuggies, Bumpits and Nickelback, it’s easy to understand why many followers of Jesus are offended by the idea of him as a product. I understand. What could be more wrong than putting our savior in the same category as a shiny new iPad. Or a device that scrambles an egg inside its shell.
Here’s the thing, though: if you feel that way, it’s because you already know him. He’s transformed your life and the lives of your friends and family. The Holy Spirit has entered your life story. He’s opened your heart. Emptied you of your pride. And given you eternal life.
But for those who don’t know Jesus, he is just another product. One that sits there in the Great Spiritual Salad Bar along with Budda, Humanism, Materialism, Good Person-ism and a lot of other things. A recent stay at a Portland hotel confirmed this for me when, next to the list of cable TV channels and mini bar inventory sat a “spiritual menu” for guests. (“One $8 can of salted almonds and a Bhagavad Gita, please.”)
As a guy who’s spent almost 20 years in the ad business, I think this is good news. Because once we make the leap, once we get over the trivializing notion of Product Jesus, we can market him more effectively–by producing powerful, compelling branding and advertising for him and his church.
Some think good advertising is about manipulation and creating false desire. But it’s not. Americans are assaulted with more than 3,000 messages every day. Good advertising breaks through. It connects with people using laughter, tears and honesty in exchange for a few precious seconds of their time when they let down their guard to briefly consider what you’re selling.
Let’s not get hung up on the concept of Jesus as a commodity. Instead, let’s embrace it so we can leverage the craft of good advertising in order to make sure our message is the one people hear. Not one of the 3,000 that gets shut out. Our product is way too important to let that happen.