Every company has an advertising, marketing and public relations department. Though they overlap in responsibility and work in united fashion, the nuanced differences between them are as follows:
Advertising: Creates the ad.
Marketing: Disperses the ad.
Public Relations: Keeps the public thinking positively about the company, product or candidate.
Persuasion is a natural component of each department. It is common knowledge that all three departments either tweak the truth a bit to their advantage, or are tempted to do so in order to get us to purchase or garner a positive opinion. Messages can be considered truthful but incomplete, when what is published is true but some content was omitted that hurt the sale or discourage a vote. These departments can each be tempted to tell the public what we want to hear instead of telling us the truth.
Did you know the body of Christ has an advertising, marketing and public relations department too? Yes, we do. The nature of our role on earth is also advertising, marketing and public relations for the name of Jesus, but if we aren’t careful, we can tweak the truth too. Today’s post is to challenge us to examine ourselves to make sure we are accurate representations of the good news.
We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I also labor, striving with all His energy working powerfully within me. (Colossians 1:28-29)
We are to proclaim the message at it is and not water it down. Yes, the message is adapted for each person or audience or age group, but the message is to maintain its full integrity.
We are not to tweak the gospel, for example, by saying things like, “All you have to do is say this prayer.” We don’t tell people that being a Christian means life is going to get better circumstantially. Being a Christian means placing our faith in Jesus, not a prayer. Being a Christian means we live out the path He decides for us, not the one we decide. Our paths will most assuredly be rocky since life is hard for everyone and anyone standing strong for Christ will draw attention.
The gospel message is wrapped around three words: crucifixion, resurrection, ascension. First, we are sinful people. A holy God loves us so much He sent is Son to die on the cross to pay for our sins (crucifixion). That Son, Jesus, raised from the dead to prove He has power over death and He can be trusted to provide eternal life (resurrection). The Son returned to heaven where He sits on the right hand of God so He could send the Holy Spirit to indwell all those who trust in Him (ascension) and empower each Christ follower to live a life that reflects God’s nature.
There are a bunch of ways to say this message, but this is the message and there is no other. We can’t tweak it to persuade in way that is dishonest.
Jesus told us how to disperse God’s messages to the world:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
The marketing strategy Jesus modeled for us and also asked us to follow occurs through relationships. He poured into 12 disciples. He was with them in life and ministry. He prayed intensely and frequently. Jesus walked with God in relationships and changed the world. I am fearful of how easy it is for us to sit at a computer or on a device and put messages online and feel like we are being good ambassadors for the gospel message. Online efforts are never a replacement for face-to-face relationships (except in extreme cases like illness, etc.).
This blog occurs is an online space. I am not sure how long I will keep this up. There is nothing wrong with using this space to get the message of Jesus out to the world, but I don’t believe I can do so without also being in people’s lives. If ever I have to pick between being solely online from the comfort of my home versus being solely face-to-face in messy relationships, God’s way will almost always be, “Go out and be messy, Laurie. It’s my way.” Go.
Jesus gave us the public relations message that will work.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35
Again, our persuasion tactic is to just love one another and the watching world will know us as Christ followers. I fear we have selected other public relations strategies so the public will think positively about us. Such strategies include softening the gospel so it will be more appealing to people, lowering the standards of God’s laws, becoming experts in reasoning and argumentation without the corresponding holiness of character, and holding back some truth so people won’t hate us.
I am challenged by my own blog post this week.
Ha! I hope to take a careful look at my life soon to make sure there are no unholy elements in my persuasive strategies as I advertise, market and oversee public relations for the name of Jesus as I aim to live the gospel message. I don’t want to be caught tweaking God’s methodologies or crossing the line between persuading with integrity and persuading like the world does.
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12)
Persuasion has already entered in. Let’s rid of it.
Flowers are part of God’s advertising, marketing and public relations strategies to proclaim His beauty, creativity and presence through creation. These pictures were taken by me from various places on the globe where God revealed His grandeur whatever life looked like in each of these moments.
© 2022 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.
*Based off reader input, this post was edited on June 17 to more accurately communicate what I was trying to say. I thank my readers for making sure this space honors God to the full extent I am able to do so.