Let’s talk marketing, miracles, and Maine. Let me explain…
Question: What’s the difference between marketing & a miracle?
Answer: Heaven & Hell!
I learned something in Maine that illustrates my point… something I pray that will help you help others.
When I was growing up in New England, I used to leave my home in Massachusetts at the end of each school year and spend a good portion of my summers in upper Maine. While only a few hours away, it constituted a true adventure in a totally different culture…
With that said, as strange as it may sound, one of my fondest memories centered around a quintessential, back-woods “Mainiac” named Whizzy. He was an electrician with some very real and life-shaping challenges, not the least of which was his constant battle with the English language. You see, Whizzy, like many northern Mainiacs, spoke a dialect that was/is harder to understand than the deepest southern draw. Even more, however, Whizzy was for me the living, breathing epitome of Tim Samples’ niche-marketed, Mainiac-humor and comedy show (something I still enjoy today).
So… you may ask: “How does Whizzy play into this pastor’s blog post on miracles?” The answer is simple, if not silly – but I promise you, it is profound and impacts eternity. You see, Whizzy used to say one of the line’s from Tim Sample’s act, just to make me laugh. Here it is, Whizzy would say in the most naturally garbled and convoluted inflections, (as only a true Mainiac can): “You can’t get there from here.” If you’ve never heard the dialect you’re probably thinking I’ve crazy… but I’m telling you, there’s nothing like it.
Anyway… what’s the point? Answer: We need to stop marketing a gospel that eliminates the need for a miracle. In short, we need to start preaching, teaching, & telling people, (especially the lukewarm church attendees), that, as Whizzy used to say: “You can’t get there (heaven) from here!”
You see friends, as an recycled business guy who was raised under the umbrella of sales and marketing, one who was also a student of church growth in seminary, I know what marketing can and cannot do in the Church.
Having said that, let me leave you with this thought…
A ministry, be it personal or team-oriented, that applies non-manipulative marketing principles, to communicate the biblical need for:
- the gospel’s miracle of saving grace,
- the miracle of heart-felt, life-changing repentance, and
- the miracle of all-in-belief, is heaven-blessed. BUT, by contrast, when a ministry’s marketing & message distort or down play the gospel’s inaccessibility, minus the Lord’s totally transformative miracle of grace, repentance, and faith, said ministry is of the Devil, for it draws people away from the exclusivity of God’s one and only, full-context, gospel of truth in love.
Lost people need to learn that they have NO HOPE outside of the blood-bought miracle of Christ’s saving grace.
The best way to assess the situation when dealing with this issue is two-fold. First, ask (yourself and/or others): “How were you saved/born-again?” A great follow up question that can help get to the core of the question is this: “Can you tell me about your spiritual death? Because we cannot be ‘born-again’ until we have died once” (John 3). Next, the second assessment tool is much more practical and pervasive. Look for consistent fruit. Becoming familiar with the short, 5 chapters of 1 John is a great help in this regard. Consider, the letter was inspired in large part to give us a blueprint on defining and defending the Church.
I hope this helps.