As appears to be becoming a regular event, Radio 4 has provided me with my stimulus for writing this morning. Apparently, the Church of England is seeking to get people to come back to church by advertising in programmes at football matches. An advertising expert was asked his opinion on how to run a succesful campaign with this objective (he didn’t think much of the CoE advert!). He said that adverts should not mention God or Christianity but should focus instead on how to help people cope with life. When challenged that surely the Christian message is about ‘the redemptive power of the gospel’ he replied that this was ‘a 2000 year old concept that has never been updated’.
Now I don’t want to misrepresent the chap concerned and I assume that he makes a difference between what he would put into an advertisement and what he thinks should be done in church – I mean I find it hard to believe that he thinks God and Christianity should never be mentioned during a service. There is, however, such a thing as misrepresentation in advertising! If the message hasn’t changed for 2000 years why should the publicity?
The message of the gospel was not popular 2000 years ago. Most of the original disciples of the Lord Jesus were imprisoned and/or executed for preaching it. It was never meant to be a popular message it was just meant to be true. The Lord Jesus said on one occasion, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt 7v13,14). By the ‘narrow gate’ he meant the way to heaven. One of the early Christians explained the message this way, ” I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to [all], repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20v20,21).
The gospel message requires the hearer to admit that they are a sinner, to confess that sin and to turn to the Lord Jesus as the only Saviour of sinners – that is never going to be an easy sell! But what do you want – something popular but false, or some 2000 year-old truth direct from God?