Driving home from the studio last night I noted that there is a new billboard on the side of the freeway, advertising Islam. The design was overall boring but got the point across: “Islam” it read “the message of Mohammed, Abraham and Jesus” or something along those lines. After glancing at it I thought someone should make a pair of phone calls. The first call should probably go to Jesus cuz I’m pretty sure He’d want to know he was a Muslim or at least a supporter. The second phone call could come from any slew of Christian congregations or organizations and ought to be placed to the Muslim group who erected the sign. The Christians should let the Muslims know that we’ve tried this kind of thing before with rather poor results.
I mean, advertising religion with a billboard will likely attract a certain kind of person to your religion, much as shouting from the sunroof of ones car at the opposite sex will attract a certain kind of date (I’d suggest that, in the latter case, it’d likely not be the kind of person you’d want to spend the rest of your life with… though that might not be what you’re after) So, in either case, perhaps it all depends on the kind of audience or clientele or follower you’re after..
part of what I’d like the Christian advertisers to tell the Muslim advertisers is that the seats of our churches are often filled with the butts of folks who responded to our advertising but, unfortunately, could never move past it. People who saw the ads, intentional and subliminal, for a faith that was comfortable and safe, driven by God’s deep, deep like of us and His faithful commitment to preserve our way of life and have been reeling ever since at the divergence between the sales pitch and the Person of Jesus they run into periodically at these meetings. And now we can’t seem to get the most of them to help so much as stack chairs after our services, much less commit to a life of service reflective of the life we were hoping to see grow in them once we’d suckered them in.
We’re trying to re-work our communication to avoid such things in the future and it’s proving to be a rather difficult process. As it turns out, the reality of the thing we’re advertising is what is known as a “crappy product.” It seldom seems to work the way we tell folks it’s going to and generally ends up costing quite a bit more than most folks are normally willing to pay. If we were being honest, our billboards would read something like:
“Join us on Sunday (plus every other day besides) and prepare to give your time/energy/money/life to people you don’t understand for the sake of a God you can’t really grasp very well either.”
See? That’s just not gonna bring the masses… but.. maybe the masses aren’t what we’re looking to gather after all?