Jesus as a Product

Jesus as a Product

May 17, 2010 by

spiritual_menu.jpgIn 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.

Post By:

Brett Borders


Brett Borders has worked as a creative in the advertising industry for nearly 20 years—13 of them as a freelance copywriter/creative director. Brett is a longtime Pacific Northwest resident and currently attends Sisters Community Church in Sisters, Ore., where donates as much time as he can helping to brand groups like redring.org, reacthaiti.com, outwardprojects.com and others.
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16 Responses to “Jesus as a Product”

  • Melissa
    May 17, 2010

    Love this!


  • Jesse
    May 17, 2010

    I appreciate the thought and insight the author has placed into this article, but I have a few counterpoints to consider.

    Everybody in Western culture has heard of Jesus. They already have a preconceived notion of the product. While marketing Jesus as a commodity isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s probably not a good idea either.

    “But for those who don’t know Jesus, he is just another product.” This is a true statement. But just because it’s true doesn’t mean Jesus should be marketed as such. If we do, he’ll end up as 1 of 3,000 other messages that get ignored throughout the day (again, going back to the fact that people already have an idea about the product).

    I would say stop marketing him as a product that you go to the store (church) and pick up.

    Instead, perhaps we should do what Jesus did and market things like love and truth. Maybe some authentic and genuine relationships. Even commitment and involvement in our communities.

    Again, no disrespect intended to the author. I appreciate his perspective. I’m simply sharing mine as well.


  • Larry
    May 17, 2010

    We are called and chosen and no amount of marketing will win people to Christ. We may get people to say the words “Jesus is Lord” but as it says in Mat 7:22-23 He will say to many “I never knew you”. The only thing we are called to do is Love God and Love others and have a response to those that ask where our hope comes from.


  • Brett Duncan
    May 17, 2010

    If we could just think of “marketing” as “communication,” I think it would open a lot of doors. We have entirely too many inaccurate schemas of marketing, and it really shows itself when you start talking about the church and Jesus.

    Nice post.

    bd
    @bdunc1


  • Ricki
    May 18, 2010

    Brett,

    You are right on with your analysis. In fact, I would go so far as to say theologically and biblically right on. One could build a very strong case that the miracles recorded in the Bible, while beneficial and loving for and toward the primary recipients, were very well conceived ad campaigns pointing people to The Real Thing. Keeping John 20:30,31 and Hebrews 2:1-4 (esp. vs.4) in mind is imperative while reading the historical accounts of the miraculous in God’s Word. Of course, while I most certainly do not think great Church Marketing rises to the level of the miraculous, I do think it can stand to rise to a level that points to a miraculous Savior!

    Ricki


  • Cameron
    May 23, 2010

    @jesse “Everybody in Western culture has heard of Jesus. They already have a preconceived notion of the product.” — this is no longer true, there are many children growing up now who have never heard of Jesus.


  • Holly
    May 27, 2010

    I’m pretty sure Jesus would have failed his marketing 101 class final project. His pitch was to spend time with 12 people, tell them to love each other, and then promise that the WHOLE WORLD would KNOW!

    He gets all the credit for being right! And He didn’t even have the help of a Facebook Fan Page.

    The world will have a much better understanding of this revolutionary marketing concept in eternity when they realize that they KNEW all along but still opted for Brand X.


  • Jesse
    May 28, 2010

    @Cameron I suppose it depends on the view of Western culture. At it’s broadest scope, I think you’re correct, so I retract my original statement. However, in America and Britain, I do think everyone has or will hear about Jesus at some point.


  • Scott Smith
    May 28, 2010

    Right on, Brett.

    Paul said “I have become all things to all people”. He spoke philosophy with the Greeks, logic with the Romans, faith with the Jews. It’s all marketing! Same great “product” – different audiences.

    This is not a message about cheapening Jesus or salvation. Marketing is not ultimately about the product – it is about the audience. We need to understand who we are trying to reach in order to gain their attention.


  • Sheila
    May 28, 2010

    Agreeing with Brett and Scott. It’s just communication and that’s loving God and others. Marketing is just a word. If it sounds manipulative etc to you, that’s okay. Just communicate the love of God to others in a way that’s relevant to the person in front of you. Much of our problems today stem from poor communication/ marketing of Jesus throughout history….which essentially means that we, as his hands and feet, have not communicated his message of love, grace, mercy and forgiveness to others. Perhaps if we considered ourselves as advertising agents, we might see how we are lucky that we haven’t been fired!


  • audiomodder
    May 31, 2010

    This concept is straight out of a completely Western mindset. The idea of Jesus as a commodity that can be marketed, while it might seem appealing to many of us, is exactly why Christianity gets absolutely no respect from younger generations. It treats the church as a “pay what you want to”shop and breeds a false conversion. It makes “Jesus changed my life” in the same league as “The iPhone changed my life”. More secular business fecal matter seeping into the thought process of the church.


  • Simon G
    June 1, 2010

    Marketing and advertising moves from the amoral to the immoral when it offers something the vendor is unable to deliver. Before even considering marketing Jesus we need to scope out what his body (yes thats us) are able to offer. It seems to me we are a long way from delivering love for our neighbors in the way people who have encountered Jesus expect.

    If we are going to look at the church from a product orientated perspective (I’m not convinced myself) then we need to sort out the basics of delivery of the product before we even consider marketing it. When we can deliver Jesus with loving action to feed and clothe the poor, free the oppressed across the whole constitutency of people we are going to market to then we can start talking marketing.

    I wonder if anyone has explored using marketing to give a more honest picture of what church is really like – full of sinners, frequently wrong, but walking in the power of Jesus toward Jesus. Countering the holier than you impression which people outside the church seem to receive whether we like it or not.


  • Larry
    June 1, 2010

    @Cameron says “there are many children growing up now who have never heard of Jesus.” – Then we need to tell them about rather than market HIM.

    Semantics can certainly get in the way in a discussion like this as in does marketing=communication as previously stated? I think communication in the Biblical sense is building relationships and sharing whereas marketing can often be impersonal such as a billboard or ad.

    One of my issues with “marketing” Jesus is that it can give the impressing we can “sell” HIM which as I stated earlier is NEVER the case. He is the one who chooses us.


  • BAM
    August 2, 2010

    I am reminded of a conversation I had with a pastor one time at a camp out in the woods. I said, if I owned a business that God led me to open, I wouldn’t even lock the doors b/c I would trust that he would protect the place.

    On our way to the cabins, it was dark. He said, why don’t we walk in the darkness and trust that God will safely get us to the cabin. I said, because that would be stupid and I have a flashlight right here!

    God gives us tools, we should use them.


  • Joe Woolworth
    September 30, 2010

    Great post. But maybe Jesus is more like a brand than a product. We are His ad campaign (christians) and our “marketing” either damages or strengthens the brand in the eyes of potential consumers.

    Loved the post.

    Check out my blog http://marketingjesus.net
    I love these ideas and write about similar stuff.


  • Angel Payne
    July 6, 2012

    I hate this post. Jesus doesn’t need to be sold. He bought us on the cross. AND his WORD…living water….is SUFFICIENT. We don’t need to be like the world to reach the world….using the worlds marketing tactics to “win souls for God”. He does the work in us and we don’t need to brainstorm how to appeal to people summersed in pop culture and campaign for Christ…his LOVE and Word is suffecient….and HE IS HOLY. Don’t you people believe that? That the Word of God and his love, mercy, grace and POWER is enough? The worlds way are evil…people who are lost are needing salvation….not what they already have which is watered down secular concepts and media that uses trickery as a means to be sold. I am sad that believers have so little faith that they rely on MANS WAY TO REACH MAN, RATHER than GOD’S way.



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