Wednesday, November 24, 2010

theology fail for a hip Jesus: Gruen transfer on selling Jesus

I’ve been enjoying the Gruen Transfer, a snappy, attractive reflection on contemporary advertising. 290 pages, colour pictures. It describes itself as a textbook on advertising, an encyclopedia on advertising and an exploration of the art and science of persuasion. It will become a compulsory textbook in my B.Min Reading Cultures topic.

Amidst reflection on everything from how they sell us toothpaste to underwear, it also analyses how Christians sell Jesus. Yep, pages 77-80, cover the 2009 Jesus: All About Life campaign. Given that over 1500 churches in New South Wales splashed more than a million dollars on this, it’s great to have some reflection on it’s ability, or otherwise, to persuade.

So what do the advertising experts say of the campaign?

Bram Williams, once head of Saatchi and Saatchi’s wrote: “Better to make the activity of being Christian attractive than try to come up with a ‘hit spin on Jesus’.”

Carolyn Miller has a similar spin: “If I had to make Jesus relevant, I would apply his teachings to modern life. What I wouldn’t do is try and make Jesus trendy – no one wants to see rapping Jesus.”

So there’s some mission wisdom from the advertising industry. Stop trying to make Jesus relevant. Get on with living the Jesus life to the full (John 10:10)! Which, interestingly, will be an upcoming theme of the Uniting church of Australia!

Posted by steve at 10:48 AM