We live in the Age of Marketing.
Forget the Industrial Age and its raw materials, even forget the Information Age and its stockpiles of data.
Everything today is about marketing and promotion.
We are inundated by an explosion of advertising events in every form. It doesn’t matter what you do, you have to market it. We learn at an early age to sell ourselves to teachers and to prospective employers.
In the church we are not immune. I am astounded that our “evangelism” is reduced to marketing strategies that promote our faith community and our programs. Most “evangelistic” tools I see available focus almost exclusively on how to increase attendance, membership, and your church’s financial giving.
Everything is about Promotion. If you don’t promote yourself, you are invisible.
Or so we are told.
The problem is that when we are in promotion mode we focus on our ego self—the image of who we think we are or who we want others to see us to be. This is our Look At Me Self.
In promotion mode we only think about how other people see us and react to us. Do you like what you see? That’s good, I will give you more because I crave the affirmation. Do you not like me? That’s bad, because I don’t want to be rejected, I desire your affection.
Because we want to belong and be someone of value in our group we avoid doing or saying anything that will lead us to become the outcast (unless we desire to be among the community of outcasts). Therefore, we don’t think much about who we might actually be, because we are always promoting a facade that we think people will accept.
This drive to promote our Look At Me Self never truly satisfies us. Even if we have thousands of people liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter, we are haunted by the knowledge that what people like is a fiction. The gap between the image we project and the essence of who we truly are grows.
Which leads me to what I am calling Don Riso’s Credo:
Nothing to Defend,
Nothing to Promote,
Nothing to Fear.
I expand the second line like this:
Nothing to Promote, Everything to Share
Sharing is an act of entering into a partnership with others. It carries with it the dynamic energy of inter-dependence and mutuality, generosity and giftedness.
In this partnership we share our authentic stories and insights about God, the world, and ourselves while also receiving the real stories and insights of others. Within this mutual generosity we connect with people in creating beauty and hope as we share our passion for Life.
We each open our lives to share ourselves as we are and as we are becoming. And there is great power in that.
In thinking about the history of the church, the major renewal movements in the church did not come out of a drive to promote or market the agenda of a particular group, they came from a passionate desire to share the power and Presence of Christ with the world. The early church, the monastic movement, the reformation, the people called Methodist, the great awakenings of the 1700′s and 1800′s in the USA, the missional revival of the late 19th century, as well as the Charismatic movement of the early 1970′s were all sparked by people who loved God deeply and wanted to share that love freely with others. No marketing campaigns, no strategies for building platforms, just connecting their grace-filled hearts with those whose hearts needed to be made whole in Christ.
As long as we focus on promoting our agenda, our groups, and our selves we feed the Look At Me Self with its self-centered limitations.
Fortunately, the Spirit of God is still able to break through our resistance and our fragile images of Self to share God’s healing power. And as we enter into this partnership with the Essence and Source of Life, we open ourselves to be a part of this extravagant outpouring of God’s Grace which Christ so freely shares today.
Nothing to Promote
Everything to Share.
Image by Alec Couros via Compfight