Pastor’s Pen

PastorA Case of Bad Advertising?

According to the Bible, Jesus has never been much for good advertising.  At least not by the standards of our consumer-driven culture today.

Everyday we’re bombarded with advertising gimmicks designed to attract us as customers.  If we buy that great car with no money down we’ll impress our family and friends.  If we call now we’ll get the best deal ever on some new sports equipment. If we take out that health club membership we’ll have a new body in three months.  Even here at the church we fill our bulletins with announcements like: “New Life-changing Bible study by Pr. Andersen begins next week.”


The job of advertising it to convince you that you’re getting the best deal at the lowest cost and the least inconvenience. If you take the offer, all the advantages go to you.  Jesus, on the other hand, takes the opposite approach in his advertising.  Instead of focusing on how we’re getting the advantages, he spells out the disadvantages. Instead of stating how we’re getting the best of the deal, he lays out the costs.

He says things like this in Matthew 16:24 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Or, in Mark 9:35 he says: “Anyone who wants to be first [in my kingdom] must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Here’s Jesus ‘family-oriented’ pitch to prospective buyers in Luke 14:26: “If anyone comes to me and doesn’t hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—that person can’t be my disciple.  And in Matthew 24:9 he ‘encourages’ his followers with the prediction: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”

What kind of advertising strategy is Jesus employing?  ‘Servants,’ ‘denial,’ ‘cross,’ ‘giving up on your family,’ are not exactly the kind of things you’d expect consumers to respond to.  And yet over the past two thousand years Jesus has attracted millions and millions of people to his cause. In the face of such bad advertising, how do we explain the success?

Well, it’s not so much the advertising tactics, but the product itself that sells what Jesus is offering. When you add together eternal life, everlasting joy, and a love that never fails, there’s no doubt that Jesus definitely has the best deal going.  As another satisfied customer named Paul of Tarsus said about his commitment to Jesus: “I consider that our present sufferings are not even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  (Romans 8:18)

God’s Blessings,  Pastor Carlton Andersen