Seth Godin posts about how nobody is taking nearly enough action to stave off global warming, mostly because of the way it is marketed: "Global" is good, "warm" is good, even "greenhouses" are nice places. It sounds like such a warm, fuzzy thing, really. It reminds me of a Postal Service song, where in a dream, global warming was a reward for being good:
And then last night I had that strange dream
Where everything was exactly as it seemed
Where concerns about the world getting warmer,
The people thought they were just being rewarded
For treating others as they like to be treated
For obeying stop signs and curing diseases
For mailing letters with the address of the sender
Now we can swim any day in November…
It’s an intriguing post, and could have something to say about the way churches "market" themselves. I used to dislike the terms "church" and "marketing" together, but it really depends on your definition of marketing. If you think it’s just advertising to get more people in your church so you can make some more money, then it’s ethically bankrupt, but if you think of it in terms of making a message "hearable" in a certain culture, then it makes all the sense in the world. Maybe a more appropriate word would be "translating." Translating an important message (global warming, the gospel of Jesus Christ) into a "language" that people can understand and grab hold of. "Global warming" doesn’t work because it evokes such nice fuzzy feelings in people. Seth suggests calling it "Atmosphere Cancer" or "Pollution Death".
I wonder in what ways the church is experiencing a simple "failure to communicate". What are we saying that needs to be "translated," or marketed differently? Not to "spin" something to say something it isn’t saying, but how to effectively tell stories that evoke the kinds of thoughts and feelings the gospel is meant to evoke? What should we be doing to make the culture around us sit up and take notice, perhaps even start asking some questions, like they did of Jesus when he did unexpected things like eating with "sinners," and healing people on the Sabbath.