Billboards for Islam

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..

Then again,..

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?

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6 Comments

  1. ha, yes.
    advertising and marketing on it’s own is such a subject, but to advertise and market religion just injects the whole discussion.
    the cost involved when those butts discover that our advertisement wasn’t quite as honest as it could have been…

  2. I gotta say, you don’t normally see intellectual honesty and theism go as hand-in-hand as they do in this post.

  3. I like the true advertisement proposal. Some others could fall in the vein of “come to Jesus to die.” “true followers of Jesus know what it’s like to carry a cross.” “life is hard until you meet Jesus, then it gets harder.” but all of this is palatable because of the promise of heaven. “it’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.” the hope of Sunday, in heaven with my Savior, gets me through so many Fridays. Jesus said the fields are ripe unto the harvest, so i think he sees the masses and has compassion on them and wants them to join his party.
    God is good
    jpu

  4. Wendi

    true, true…too many warm seats, for sure.

  5. TL

    Great post. I agree with your thoughts on the good ole’ bait and switch theories of Christian advertising. The bigger issue is we’re trying to pull people in with a false doctrine that we (as committed believers) still try to live by. We can’t expect outsiders to come in and see the love of God if we’re not willing to be the arms and legs of His plan showing compassion to the world. We need to stop being comfortable (thinking serving is stacking chairs after church) when it should be giving up our everything for the sake of the community (both for the believers and those who do not believe).

    And the goal of advertising is to bring people into the church (building) when the goal of the church is supposed to be to go out and bring the church (the people) and God’s message to the world.

    Just FYI- Islam doesn’t discount Jesus completely. They consider him a high prophet, one which they can learn from. They discount His divinity but not his moral lessons.

    For more info- http://www.islam-guide.com/ch3-10.htm

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