I wish that you could look me in the eye as you hear these words. Then you might have a clearer view of the heart that's at the root of all of these thoughts. It’s a heart that desperately loves God and desperately loves His people. It’s a heart of wondering rather than knowing everything, and a heart that is seeking. Seeking His better ways through questioning what has become our normal ways.
So humor me as you read and picture yourself sitting across from me, having a real conversation about this whole topic. That means you’ll have to eventually join in on that conversation though, and share your words in response.
I am a blogger, and because of this one simple fact, each and every time I log on to a social network the ad’s are soon to follow. They pop up everywhere, “How to Grow Your Following, “10 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic”, “5 Easy Steps to Grow Your Audience”.
Thanks to our ability to target ads, they’re everywhere I look.
I love my blogging friends and I love my creative friends. I love the way that they’ve been able to use their gift in a way that brings in an income.
I wouldn’t discourage this pursuit, but I’ve had a few red flags pop up as I look over the world that you and I are a part of.
Because of social media, marketing has transformed our way of life.
We schedule posts, outline posts, boost posts and spend money to be seen more, clicked more and bought more.
And I’m afraid that it’s crept into our Christian way of life and changed us more than we’d care to admit.
I’m afraid that we’ve begun to create a gospel that is marketable.
Marketable: Fit to be offered for sale, Wanted by purchasers.
Our world has placed such a high value on things that are visually appealing. We crave more beauty and the scenes that are eye catching.
Our churches have placed a high value on the appearance, so much so that we have gone to outlandish means for the sake of drawing in more and more people.
Appearance is quickly becoming everything, whether it’s the way the leaders are dressed up on stage, the ability to decorate in the latest fads and looks- it’s becoming a higher emphasis and it’s becoming our main means of attracting the worlds attention.
As a Christ follower the main distraction that we now face is to try and gain a higher following rather than to disciple a few lives well.
We’re consumed with what is relevant because it’s what the world around us demands. The thought of bringing something out-dated, threatens to ruin all that you’ve worked so hard to build.
So what is the danger and what is the point?
What worries me the most is simply this:
When you begin to market the gospel, you are bound to the the wants of the people.
In order to be successful in this sort of living, you have to have something that the people think is worth giving.
And we as humans rarely want what’s actually good for us, but rather crave what will make us feel some sort of temporary good.
When we base our ministry and our way of living off of numbers or conversion rates, there will be a costly price for us to pay. The words will have to be altered, the truth mixed in with so much fluff that it’s left only recognized by a few.
There are a thousand e-courses that you and I can join, and hundreds more podcasts that we could all go download. There are more blogs in the world than you and I could ever read, and authors are becoming as common as the neighbors on your street.
I’ve listened to the podcasts and read so many of the blogs. I’m a lover of many books and they’ve done their share of good, but this doesn’t keep me from wondering how this way of living will really end?
When our life in Jesus gets linked to our monthly paycheck and our ministry becomes our daily income there is reason to proceed with caution. Not because it’s all going to go wrong, but you will have a battle to fight.
A battle to keep true to the written Word of God, regardless of what the people want. A battle to declare the truth with real boldness, and chance offending a few of your followers.
When we seek to attract others by any means other than the simple love and truth of Jesus then we’ve caught ourselves in a lie of giving away a false Christianity.
If our Christian life is only bound up in Instagram squares or our time up on stage, than we’ve missed it all together.
I’m not sure what to do with these thoughts. All I know is that they’re heavy on my heart for too long not to share.
These are the questions that I’ve been using to examine myself:
-What is the motivation behind the voices that I allow in? (e.g. Do I only read the book that looks good in an Instagram post?)
-Do you tailor the words of your posts and conversations to speak only what others will want to hear?
-Does your type of ministry have to have a certain type of relevance to draw in a crowd or are you giving away the authentic Gospel, leading others in real, old-fashioned truth?
All we need for ministry is Jesus + Nothing.
All we need for Christlike living is Jesus + Nothing.
All we need for a life that reaches the greatest success is Jesus + Nothing.
All we need for discipleship is Jesus + Nothing.
And because of this truth, every single one of us has just been made qualified to go and live a life that multiplies.
Praise Jesus for the extra encouragement and tools that He has blessed us with, but only Jesus can do the most needed work in a persons heart. May He always be the object of our seeking.