two spins on consumer evangelism

September 21, 2004

Ran across this quote while reviewing some of my underlined portions of Coercion by Douglas Rushkoff:

Retailers no longer pretended they were simply selling their products in the best possible light. They were doing more than just associating their wares with a desirable lifestyle. They were creating atmospheres that triggered an emotional need: to be a part of a world that was different from everyday reality. This distinction is key. Salespeople were no longer focusing on the attributes of the product but of the customers.

I was thinking of how this relates to how the change in advertising has effected how the church ‘does evangelism.’ I present the positive spin and negative spin:

Positive: The change in advertising has caused the church to rethink how it reaches people as well. We have begun to understand that we need to be more intentional about connecting with people where they are at, and showing how the gospel can sweep in and meet their needs. (This concept of evangelism is well presented by Brian McLaren in More Ready Than You Realize.) Simply communicating the highlights of the gospel by preaching the message to a large audience is no longer seen to be as effective. Instead, we have, like advertisers, begun to meet people where they are at, and show them how the gospel can ‘improve’ their situation.

Negative: The change in advertising has caused us to begin to think of ourselves first. Therefore, unless someone can show us specifically how the gospel relates to us, we are not interested. Where this actually gets negative is when it is pushed further. It also creates a whole movement of people who are much more interested in simply having church their way. They feel if they don’t have an opportunity to participate in a discussion with someone, then why should they bother to listen to what they have to say. Thus, the old paradigm of ‘preaching’ is to be tossed out (On a side note, there is a good conversation about preaching developing here.) because we all want it customized our own way.

Now, I obviously lean toward the former, which is probably kind of evident since More Ready Than You Realize is listed in the side column as one of my ‘noteworthy reads.’ However, there is likely more truth in the negative spin than many of us would probably care to accept.

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