Selling short the Gospel

“These troubling economic times are an unprecedented opportunity for the Gospel.”

This sentiment bugs me. And I think I have figured out why.

I have been hearing variations of these words for the last few months. It is true that as our culture’s false gods of materialism, greed and pride are being exposed as modern-era golden calves, many people are asking different questions about God and life than they may have asked before. The recession (which appears likely to be headed into a full-scale depression) in which we find ourselves means that need – of work, of financial help, of direction and hope – takes center stage in many lives. It is equal-opportunity need, in fact. No one is immune – both believers and those not yet following Christ are facing need in ways we never have before. And most of us know that we’re still in the early stages of this new reality.

It is an time of “opportunity”, for sure. It is an opportunity for the Bride to be the Bride, to love the world the way the Bridegroom loves it, and to display the alt-reality of His kingdom. It is true that some who say that this time is an unprecedented time of opportunity for the Gospel mean precisely that.

But I hear a lot of the ickier side of evangelicalism in the use of these words, too. In some of the contexts in which I’ve heard this idea being hawked, I hear these words being used to motivate a sales force in order to merchandise a commodity. It feels a little Dunder-Mifflin-ish, perhaps, or at least regional sales meeting-ish. “Get in there and push the product, people. Strike while the iron is hot!” The words have a triumphalistic edge to them, and it isn’t very attractive.

This time in our culture might be about evangelicals learning to embrace the victory that comes with discarding this triumphalistic way of shilling the Gospel-As-Commodity, and instead losing our lives and finding His. In this pursuit alone, we will become His beautiful Bride.

Has anyone else been cranked the wrong way by the way some have spoken about these times as an opportunity for the Gospel? Or (entirely possible) – am I just being contrarian here?

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9 thoughts on “Selling short the Gospel”

  1. Loved it, Michelle … glad you have a voice, and glad you know how to “use your words.”

  2. Thanks, Mar. I’m not surprised at all that this resonated with you. 🙂

  3. Michelle,
    Hello! I stumbled upon your blogpage from a link from Heather’s (Deconstructing Christians).

    Great post and blogpage! Much of where you are on the Journey really resonates with my heart.

    Feel free to visit my blogpage, peek around at some of my posts, and if you’d like, feel free to add me to your Blogroll!

    ~Amy 🙂
    Walking In The Spirit

  4. I wouldn’t call you contrarian, but calling it as you see it. That kind of talk has driven me crazy, when the gospel and Jesus is something to be sold, having to convince the “would be buyers” out there that we have a great product if only they’d wise up and give him a try. (After all, everything IS better with Jesus, right? Even an economic depression. . .)

  5. Amy – I will definitely be visiting your blog again. Thanks for your encouraging comment.

    Marie B. – It is entirely possible that we’re BOTH contrarian. On the other hand, it may be that neither of us are buying what the marketers are selling.

  6. Yep, marketing and Christianity. A bad combination and most non-believers see right through it. When will we all learn that people will “buy what we’re sellin'” when we stop selling it and start sharing because we see others as God’s beloved children, just like us, not as prospects to be sold a membership into the club?

  7. “…most non-believers see right through it”. Though evagelicals have always had those tendencies (think tent revivals and Billy Sunday), we have gotten disconnected from discipleship in our quest to sell our churches.

    Discipleship costs more than any consumer can afford out of their disposable income.

  8. Visiting from Jesus Creed and enjoying your thoughts. I agree with you – this is an opportunity, but not a time for kick-in-the-pants-I- told-you-so-ugliness. It’s an opportunity for me as an individual to live out what I know to be true, to give and share and trust in the face of my own struggles. Shouldn’t be a (as someone said above) marketing opportunity. (Loved the Dunder-Mifflin reference!!)

  9. Thanks for stopping by here, Dianne. It was fun to see the post reprinted at Jesus Creed yesterday, and to watch the interesting interchange around it.

    Giving, sharing and trusting in the face of our own struggles is, perhaps, what faithful proclamation of the gospel is all about.

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