Jesus and Bad Advertising

I was on a road trip about a year ago and my son Elijah needed to use the bathroom. There was a gas station that said “clean restrooms,” so we pulled in.

But the restrooms were filthy. Pee and trash everywhere. It was disgusting. Elijah looked at me and said,  “why does it say clean restrooms when these aren’t clean?” I said, “I guess they lied to us.”

Not too long after this, Elijah and I were in a nice hotel and we went into the restroom and it was super clean. He said to me, “Daddy, does this restroom have a sign that says it has clean restrooms?” It didn’t. Then he responded, “Why do some restrooms say they’re clean and they’re not, and then other restrooms are clean and they don’t say that they are?”

I don’t know.
And I also don’t know why this same dynamic continually plays itself out in the Church either.

The Church is fond of saying that the world offers everything but has nothing. And that’s true. But from my experience, the Church offers everything but doesn’t know how to really advertise it. Either corporately or individually.

People come into our worship experiences and hear us say Jesus is great, but then they see us celebrate Him with mediocrity.
People look at our lives and hear us say we’re Christians, but then they see very little difference in us that would compel them to want the supposed hope and joy that we have.

I’m tired of the world selling their product so well when their product can’t do anything for anybody. But I’m equally tired of the Church having something that can do everything for everybody but we make it look like it can’t do anything for anybody.

I believe the most important message in the world deserves the best presentation. That’s why I’m so adamant about the Church being known for excellence. And that’s why I’m also so adamant about people living up to their full potential in Christ. It’s not that we’re trying to impress people with how great we are. It’s that we’re trying to impress into people how great Jesus is.

Some people might respond by saying that Jesus doesn’t need us to make Him look good. In fact, by presenting the gospel with excellence, we’re taking away from it. We’re stealing glory from God. Making people love the messenger rather than the message.

They probably should have told that to Moses when he was making an ornate Tabernacle.
To Paul when he presented the gospel with skill at Athens.
And to Apollos who was a skilled orator and was used by God powerfully.

Of course Jesus doesn’t need us to make Him look good. But I also don’t think He wants us to make Him look bad either. Or neglect to reflect how great He is.

We’ve got the greatest message in the world.

Let’s not make it harder than it has to be for people to realize how great it is.

Read more from Steven here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steven Furtick

Steven Furtick

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the Chatterbox, Greater, and Sun Stand Still. Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Mr. Steven Finkill — 02/01/13 3:13 pm

I like the thoughts here. I would add, though, that in my humble opinion part of the issue that many churches face is not being able to clearly articulate what the "offer" is. In the example, the offer is clear: "clean restrooms." And of course, they weren't. How do we talk about what Jesus "offers" to us with clarity? To me, that's just as big an issue as sharing it with excellence.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 

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